Warning of high air pollution levels in UK

By Updated at 2015-04-10 08:27:01 +0000


LONDON - Parts of the UK could reach the highest level of air pollution on Friday, prompting health warnings.

The conditions are set to create a build-up of local pollutants from sources such as traffic fumes, combined with pollution from the continent and Saharan dust from the south.

The pollution, which has led to a number of warnings being issued and has been labelled "troubling" by health charities, is predicted to soar across the UK with levels in parts of the south east being "very high".

While most people will not be affected by short term peaks in air pollution, some individuals, particularly those with existing heart or lung conditions, may experience increased symptoms, said Public Health England (PHE).

Much of the South East and eastern England will see high levels of pollution.

In areas experiencing very high levels of air pollution, adults and children with lung problems, adults with heart problems and older people are advised to avoid strenuous activity.

People are also advised to reduce physical exertion, particularly outside, and asthma sufferers may need to use their reliever inhaler more often.

Healthy people tend to notice air pollution as a dry throat, sore eyes or a tickly cough.
But it can have a more serious impact on health by being the trigger for a heart attack or by making asthma worse.

Even low levels of air pollution can harm the health of people who are particularly sensitive.
But on Friday pollution will hit "level 10" or "very high" - the highest category of air pollution in the UK.

It does not mean people need to stay indoors.
But it is the only category of air pollution at which at-risk people - those with heart or lung problems and the elderly - are told to completely avoid strenuous physical activity.
Even healthy people are told to cut down on the amount of physical exertion.
However, the pollution will be brief and levels will drop to low/moderate by Saturday.

'National embarrassment'

People are also advised to avoid busy roads and those who carry a reliever inhaler should always have it with them.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: "This latest high air pollution episode, coming so soon after the last, is troubling, and could again put people living with respiratory conditions at risk of worsening symptoms."
A Defra spokeswoman said: "This is expected to clear on Saturday and pollution levels will return to low throughout the morning."
A case brought by environmental lawyers Client Earth against the government over levels of air pollution that breach European Union rules is shortly to return to the Supreme Court.
Philip Insall, director of health for cycling charity Sustrans, described the state of air pollution in Britain as "criminal" and a "national embarrassment".
He said: "The next government will need to get a grip on air pollution.
"That will mean serious, dedicated investment and an effective programme of action to help more people out of their cars and choosing walking and cycling for short journeys."

People are also advised to reduce physical exertion, particularly outside, and asthma sufferers may need to use their reliever inhaler more often.

Anyone suffering from sore eyes, a cough or sore throat should cut down on activity, particularly outdoors.

Copyright: News Agencies, British Media, BBC London