The Diamond League athletic series: does the air quality sparkle?

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Urban air pollution can have negative short- and long-term impacts on health, including cardiovascular, neurological, immune system and developmental damage. The irritant qualities of pollutants such as ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) can cause respiratory and cardiovascular distress, which can be heightened during physical activity and particularly so for those with respiratory conditions such as asthma. Previously, research has only examined marathon run outcomes or running under laboratory settings. This study focuses on elite 5-km athletes performing in international events at nine locations. Local meteorological and air quality data are used in conjunction with race performance metrics from the Diamond League Athletics series to determine the extent to which elite competitors are influenced during maximal sustained efforts in real-world conditions. The findings from this study suggest that local meteorological variables (temperature, wind speed and relative humidity) and air quality (ozone and particulate matter) have an impact on athletic performance. Variation between finishing times at different race locations can also be explained by the local meteorology and air quality conditions seen during races.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1427-1442
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number8
Early online date24 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was generated as part of J.R. Hodgson’s PhD studies and funded by NERC/UKRI as part of the Data, Risk and Environmental Analytical Methods (DREAM) CDT.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Air quality
  • Athletics
  • Diamond League
  • Exercise performance
  • Meteorology
  • Physical health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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