Kentucky Sports Safety Work Group Recommends Plan For Addressing Sports Activity On Air Quality Alert Days Posted: November 13, 2009
On August 25, 2008, KRC wrote to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association urging that they revise the "Kentucky Medical Association / Kentucky High School Athletic Association Procedure For Avoiding Heat Injury / Illness Through Analysis of Heat Index and Restructuring of Activities" in order to include consideration of ambient levels of ozone and fine particulate matter in determining when outdoor sports-related activity should be decreased or stopped entirely. The current guidelines do not consider air quality in establishing breakpoints for curtailment of outdoor physical activity.
In March of 2009, Governor Beshear signed HB 383, sponsored by Representatives Joni Jenkins and Derrick Graham, which called for a study by a Sports Safety Work Group on recommendations to improve sports safety for Kentucky school students. KRC Director Tom FitzGerald briefed the Study Group on air quality issues on August 10, 2009. The final report includes recommendations on air quality, which are reprinted below. KRC will be developing for KHSAA consideration, by year's end, a model plan for addressing air quality alert days.
From the report:
"Air quality issues have been addressed by several authorities in the environmental health arena. The SSWG studied air quality information as it relates to communities in Kentucky. Mr. Tom FitzGerald, an expert on the subject, attended the Aug. 10, 2009, SSWG meeting and had supplied written information at previous meetings. Mr. FitzGerald discussed many of his findings and included ways to minimize athlete risk due to poor air quality. The SSWG found that credible evidence exists illustrating the effect of Air Quality on respiratory health. Poor Air Quality Index readings (100 and above) begin to have a detrimental effect on members of the population with respiratory problems. That risk escalates with higher readings. Since ambient air quality is currently only monitored in seven areas in Kentucky (Louisville, Lexington, Ashland, Owensboro, Pikeville, Bowling Green and Paducah), there are many areas of the state that are not affected by these air quality measurements. Coaches and administrators in the affected areas should be aware of conditions and take precautions to protect student-athletes on poor air quality days, including altering practice routines to reduce endurance-based activity.
CONSENSUS OF THE SSWG
1)Air Quality Index information needs to be available to coaches and administrators in pre-determined areas of the state.
The SSWG recommends that the KHSAA take the following action regarding air quality:
Work with the Environmental Protection Cabinet to identify areas of the state and specific KHSAA member schools affected by the Ambient Air Quality warnings and information,
Distribute a model plan to member schools for dealing with ambient air quality alerts, and
Work with the Environmental Protection Cabinet to study the feasibility of integrating its data into the KHSAA website with notification mechanisms."
KRC thanks the members of the Sports Safety Work Group for their incorporation of this recommendation to KHSAA, and Representatives Jenkins and Graham for their advocacy on this important public health issue.