Six runners and one official at the Beijing International Marathon have suffered heart attacks amid the high level of air pollution in the Chinese capital city.
The seven individuals were taken to hospital after being diagnosed with heart attacks during a race on Sunday, which attracted about 30,000 participants, reports said. None of the heart attack cases were fatal, though.
One of the individuals was a 30-year-old man, who suddenly fainted just four kilometers (2.4 miles) from the finish line of the 42-kilometer (26-mile) race.
The air quality index was announced at 175 by the US Embassy’s monitoring station soon after the end of the competition. According to the embassy, levels between 151 and 200 are considered unhealthy, and prolonged outdoor exercise is not recommended under such levels.
The Sunday marathon began at Tiananmen Square and finished at Beijing’s Olympic Park. Some participants wore face masks to protect themselves from the air pollution.
Kenyan Mariko Kipchumba, 41, took the first place in 2 hours 11 minutes, becoming the first non-Ethiopian athlete to win the contest since 2011. The race was first held in 1981.
China is known for its heavy air pollution, mostly caused by an enormous use of coal to generate electricity, and the large number of vehicles on the roads.
In 2013, Beijing announced it would spend 1.7 trillion yuan (267 billion dollars) in a bid to tackle air pollution. The vast sum of money was planned to be invested over a period of five years.
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