Altitude training is a staple of Olympic-grade endurance athletics.  If you’re participating in a event that tests the limits of your aerobic capacity, science says that living, sleeping, and exercising in the mountains of Colorado – or a tent that simulates the atmospheric conditions of the mountains of Colorado – will increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of your blood.  This gives you benefits in energy, endurance, and not getting in trouble for doping because The International Olympic Committee says its a completely legit training technique.

Science doesn’t say this, but maybe a better regimen for athletes prepping for the 2008 Beijing Olympics would’ve been to smoke a pack or two of Marlboro Reds a day.  In a city where, “there is no rain or wind, ozone and fine dust accumulate, often to a rate that is two or three times the maximum levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO),” smoking certainly would’ve more appropriately replicated the conditions.

Or, the 10,000 or so athletes could’ve just trained in Linfen. 

Located in China’s Shanxi Province, Linfen gained notoriety in 2006 after the World Bank called it, “The Most Polluted City in the World.” That unfortunate honor makes it a perfect candidate for VBS.TV’s Toxic series.

Above, David Feinberg explores the nature and impact of the post-apocalyptic hue that clouds the city’s 4 million denizens, and examines the rich coal mines that together act as an energy artery for China, pumping out 18-wheelers filled with highly-pollutant power to all corners of the massive country. 

Some notable quotes: “Spending about a day here breathing in the air is about the same as smoking 3 packs of cigarettes,” and “Like living inside a miner’s lungs. Who also smokes.”  Not sure if those are anecdotal or lab-room-tested facts, but still, you get the idea.  A fascinating piece of journalism.  Definitely one to watch. 

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