Smog descends as June departs in a blaze of heat and pollution oveyr 2

Soaring temperatures raise ozone levels as Wimbledon spectators wilt in the sun
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The Independent Online
NICHOLAS SCHOON

Smog covered much of England yesterday as continuous strong sunshine, low winds and air pollution combined to create high concentrations of ozone on the hottest day of the year.

The warmest June day since the drought summer of 1976 was recorded at the London Weather Centre, at 31.3C (88F).At Wimbledon, the temperature rose to 110F on Centre Court, a figure which beat the last all time high of 106F in 1976. Dozens of people fainted and about 100 spectators were treated for sunburn and heat exhaustion.

In Farnham, Surrey, 13 pupils in their early teens were taken to hospital after collapsing in the heat during a school sports day. While in Essex, trading standards officers were investigating a report that Kim Bullock, 18, of Witham, suffered minor burns while sunbathing when her skirt caught fire after metal tassels heated up in the sun.

The Government's air pollution monitoring stations in East Sussex and Devon recorded ozone levels above the 90 parts per billion ''poor'' concentration. At other stations in Derbyshire and Oxfordshire this 90 ppb level was close to being breached.

Ozone, which affects some asthmatics and people with chest problems, is produced by the action of sunlight on fumes from traffic, power stations and solvents. Concentrations build up when the air is fairly still.

This June has been the 10th driest this century, according to the Meteorological Office, and follows a dry spring and an exceptionally wet winter. The first half of the month was cold and the second exceptionally warm.

Across the Midlands and in the South-east, thousands of homes were suffering water shortages due to soaring demand as householders watered lawns. A sprinkler consumes the same amount of water in an hour as a family of four uses in two days.

In the Thames Water region, towns such as Guildford, in Surrey, Sidcup, in Kent, and Tilehurst, in Berkshire, were hit. Similar difficulties were being experienced in parts of the Midlands.

A few other companies are poised to join Mid Southern Water, which covers Surrey, and ban sprinklers. ''It's not a problem of a shortage of water, but of the rate at which we can treat and supply it,'' said managing director, John Mitchell. Severn Trent's director of customer service, Terry Tricker, said: "Unnecessary use of sprinklers is a shocking waste of water."

Motorists leaving France for Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg this weekend have been warned of possible delays. French road hauliers are threatening to block borders in protest at a new permit system for lorries over 12- tons on motorways.

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