This video report looks at the effects of pollution on Olympic athletes and the residents of Beijing, host city for the 2008 Summer Games.
Rapid Chinese industrialization and proximity to a desert makes Beijing a smog sink, and the presence of a fog of pollutants in the city could make competition difficult for some of the world's top athletes.
Reporter Betty Ann Bowser talks to an atmospheric chemist who explains why Beijing has such epic smog problem and to an Olympic cyclist and an Olympic physiologist who describe how athletes are preparing for an environment where a "blue sky day" is still very smoggy.
"This slide shows what a blue-sky day can be like in Beijing. If you look carefully down here... You can see the shadows of the trees, and that qualifies it as a blue sky day. Obviously, there's no blue sky around, blue-sky days do not automatically mean deep blue skies that we in the West are accustomed to." - Kenneth Rahn, University of Rhode Island atmospheric chemist
"It's like - it's a weird bronchial spasm thing that I was getting - whenever you tried to take enough breath to give your muscles that fuel of oxygen they need, your bronchioles just start spasming and you just like physically can't do it." - Adam Craig, USA Cyclist, on racing in Beijing pollution
"You get chronic bronchitis, asthma, aggravation of asthma, scarring of the lung. And, interestingly enough, not only is the lung affected, but those same pollutants, when they deposit in these areas and cause those responses like inflammation, also get in the bloodstream." - Dr. David Christiani, Harvard University
1. What is air pollution? What causes it?
2. China has a serious pollution problem, why do you think that is?
3. Have you ever exercised in a smoggy or polluted environment? What did it feel like? What are some problems athletes face competing in a polluted environment?
1. Would you compete in the Beijing Olympics? Why or why not?
2. Why is there so much smog in Beijing and what should the Chinese government do about it?
3. Do you think Beijing will continue trying to limit pollution after the Olympics are over? Do you think bad press about the air quality will force China to take more drastic measures?
4. Do you think other cities will have pollution problems like Beijing as the world becomes more populated? What is unique about Beijing that makes pollution there particularly bad, and how does Beijing compare to American cities?
China Prepares for 2008 Olympics: