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"Operation Clean Air" Helps U.S. Team

High-tech air filtration systems that are said to be 100 times more efficient than commercial air purifiers were installed before the Summer Games in the rooms of U.S. athletes at the Olympic Village to ensure they could breathe clean air in one of the world's most polluted cities, according to officials from IQAir North America and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Dubbing the project "Operation Clean Air," company experts and USOC officials traveled to Beijing in November, 2007, to examine the Olympic Village rooms and create a blueprint for the work. Company spokesman Kirk Sullivan said installation of the units was completed Tuesday.
"This is the first time in history ultra-high efficiency air cleaning has been used on a comprehensive level to gain a performance advantage at an athletic event," Sullivan wrote in an e-mail.
The company, which designed small air purifiers for U.S. athletes's bedrooms and larger ones for other facilities, claims its devices filter particles as small as 0.003 microns--smaller than the smallest virus. Developed by a team of scientists under IQAir President Frank Hammes, the purifiers rely on technology IQAir has used to filter particles as small as the SARS virus, MRSA, and tuberculosis in hospitals worldwide, the company says.
"Our goal is to ensure that we do everything possible to provide the very best training and performance advantages we can for our athletes," Margaret Hunt, medical director for the USOC, said in a release." We feel that while all athletes will appreciate our efforts with IQAir, athletes with asthma will especially benefit."

By Amy Shipley  |  August 13, 2008; 10:00 PM ET
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