Saharan dust lands in England as 'very high' levels of air pollution warned this week

Experts are anticipating 'high' or 'very high' air pollution levels on Wednesday

A A A

“Very high” levels of air pollution over the next few days are prompting health concerns for vulnerable and elderly people, as the dust from the Saharan desert and winds combined to create a potentially "toxic" storm.

Asthmatics have been advised they might need to use their blue reliever inhalers more often as they could be prone to attacks today and over the next few days.

Other people with lung and heart problems, and those who are older, should also avoid strenuous exercise or activity.

The advice from Public Health England (PHE), Asthma UK and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) comes as the government warned large swathes of England and Wales will see high levels of pollution on Wednesday.

The east of England and Midlands were the worst-affected areas on Tuesday, Defra said.

The elevated pollution levels are the result of a combination of light south-easterly winds, the continental air flow and dust which has blown up from the Sahara desert, a spokeswoman said.

Defra uses a 10-point scale to measure air quality, with a 10 warning suggesting "very high" levels of pollution and a one warning meaning there is a "low risk".

Experts are anticipating “high” or “very high” air pollution levels on Wednesday

Dr Helen Dacre, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, said: "High air pollution levels can cause unpleasant and dangerous effects on health, both long and short term.

"Toxic gases, such as nitrogen dioxide and ozone, as well as fine dust particles in the air blown in from the Sahara and from burning fossil fuels, all contribute to cause problems for people with heart, lung and breathing problems, such as asthma.

"The problem is likely to be particularly bad today because weather conditions have conspired to create a 'perfect storm' for air pollution."

The north-west of Norfolk saw levels of pollution hit 10 on Tuesday. Wednesday could see levels reach as high as 9 in some parts of southern England and Wales.

For levels of pollution as high as 10, Defra advises: "adults and children with lung problems, adults with heart problems, and older people, should avoid strenuous physical activity. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often."

The high levels of pollution were expected to continue across East Anglia and the Midlands on Thursday, but levels should decline by Friday.

Some people found their cars were covered in a light coating of red dust last weekend. The Met Office said that a large amount of sand and dust was swept up by storm winds in the Sahara Desert.

Experts said that the airborne particles of dust were blown north to the UK where they combined with our warm air and were deposited during showers.

A map showing levels of pollution forecast for Wednesday

A Defra spokeswoman said: “The high level of air pollution this week is due to a combination of local emissions, light winds, pollution from the continent and dust blown over from the Sahara.

“We want to keep improving air quality and have introduced a new five-day forecast service in addition to investing heavily in local and transport initiatives to tackle this issue head-on.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?