Air Quality Alert Triggered by Saharan Dust
Forecasters are predicting that much of England and Wales will see high pollution levels over the next few days. A combination of light south easterly winds, the continental air flow and dust which has blown in from the Sahara has pushed air pollution towards maximum levels in the East of England and the Midlands, with conditions set to spread to most areas. Experts expect cleaner air from the Atlantic to bring some respite on Friday.
The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Daily Air Quality Index runs from levels 1-10 with appropriate health advice provided. Levels in East Anglia reached 10 on Tuesday afternoon.
Adults and children with lung problems, heart defects and older people are being urged to avoid any strenuous activity and asthma sufferers have been told to use their inhaler more often. Dr Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection at Public Health England told the BBC Radio Four Today programme that current levels of pollution were “Clearly a serious issue, but it is important we don’t get it out of proportion.”
The current episode is likely to reopen the debate on the UK’s poor air quality record, which has resulted in the EU launching legal proceedings for excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide. Environmental Law Group Client Earth have already called on the government to introduce changes to the way pollution warnings are given to bring them in line with those currently in use for floods and heatwaves.