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UK braced for highest level of air pollution


Image courtesy of Defra – crown copyright

Very high levels of air pollution are expected in the South of the UK today, and over the next few days, as our current, already polluted air mixes with sand in the atmosphere, blown in on storms from the Sahara Desert.

As FMJ reported yesterday, the Saharan dust, swept in 2,000 miles from north west Africa, continues to coat the UK with its sandy hue, as it is is brought down from the upper atmosphere by rain. It is then combining with air pollution from the UK and EU, to create even higher levels of pollution.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which has issued today’s warnings has a 10-point scale for measuring air quality: with ‘1’ meaning there is a “low” risk of air pollution and ’10’ meaning “very high” levels are expected. 

These predicted high levels of pollution have promoted medical experts to issue health advice and caution to vulnerable groups of people who are particularly affected by pollution, such as those with heart and chronic lung conditions and asthma.

Image courtesy DEFRA - crown copyright

Image courtesy DEFRA – crown copyright

Defra is encouraging people to take sensible precautions based on the levels of air pollution in their region and their health, such as reducing or avoiding strenuous activity and ensuring they have access to their usual medication, such as asthma inhalers. It may also be a good idea to keep doors and windows closed until the pollution levels ease.

Dr Sotiris Vardoulakis, head of the air pollution and climate change group at Public Health England’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, said:

“On occasions where levels are high, adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors, and particularly if they experience symptoms. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often. Older people should also reduce physical exertion. Anyone experiencing discomfort such as sore eyes, cough or sore throat should consider reducing activity, particularly outdoors.”

Today’s pollution levels are marked on the map above, with the brightest purples and reds indicating high to very high levels of pollution. Moderate to high air pollution levels are forecast for central and southeast England, to the south and east of a line from around The Wash to Cheshire to east Devon, with the very highest level of pollution “very high” (the purple colour on the map) expected in parts of East Anglia and the East Midlands. Across the south and east of Wales and along the north coast of Wales, around Wirral and Merseyside, as well as the rest of Devon, mainly moderate pollution levels are forecast. 

The pollution levels are set to continue with high levels forecast for East Anglia, the Midlands, including Lincolnshire, easternmost parts of Wales, through Wirral and the north coast of Wales, then north over much of coastal northwest England, to southwest Scotland and the northeast of Northern Ireland tomorrow. Moderate pollution is forecast many other parts of England and Wales.

By Friday most areas of the UK are expected to return to low levels of pollution.




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