HISA Racetrack Safety Program guidelines on air quality

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s Racetrack Safety Program contains a section on hazardous weather protocol, including guidelines for air quality.

Air quality in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic has been affected the week of June 4 by smoke from wildfires in Canada. A few racetracks canceled live racing June 7-8, and the Maryland Jockey canceled training at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course the morning of June 8.

The United States Air Quality Index is an index developed by the Environmental Protection Agency to measure air quality. The higher the number (1-500), the higher the level of concern. Projected AQI for a given location is tracked by each state and disseminated through the National Weather Service, though HISA said some racetracks may also utilize on-site AQI monitors.

The AQI for Laurel the morning of June 8 was 254, and the AQI for Baltimore was 258. Both numbers are considered “very unhealthy” according to the EPA. (Current air quality can be tracked by zip code or municipality at airnow.gov.)

The HISA Racetrack Safety Program offers the following guidelines:

AQI of 100-150: Monitor the facility daily if the AQI consistently reaches 100 and there is cause for concern in the local environment, including the presence of a wildfire in the area.

AQI of 150-174: Closely monitor the facility and consider limiting training to jogging and/or jogging and gallops only and be prepared to take further action if conditions worsen.

AQI of 175 or higher: Restrict activity at the track, including but not limited to canceling live racing, canceling workouts, and prohibiting galloping, breezing or anything more strenuous than a jog.

The EPA offers the following AQI color codes:

Green (0-50): Good

Yellow (51-100): Moderate

Orange (101-150): Unhealthy for sensitive groups

Red (151-200): Unhealthy

Purple (201-300): Very unhealthy

Maroon (301 and higher): Hazardous

The AQI can change throughout a given day. Weather forecasts in Maryland have indicated local air quality may improve the afternoon of June 9.

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