Smog alert issued as level of ozone hits new high
Only a break in the weather will disperse the photochemical smog, caused mainly by fumes from petrol and diesel vehicles, combined with still atmospheric conditions and uninterrupted strong sunshine. Light easterly winds added to the problem by wafting in pollution from Europe.
Thundery showers are forecast for the south and east of England this afternoon, where smog levels have been high. While thunderstorms disperse the pollution, they also cause serious asthma problems in summer because they release pollen and fungi spores.
Monday's top temperature, 31C (88F) recorded at Northolt in north-west London, was topped by a measurement of 32.6C (91F) at Heathrow airport yesterday afternoon. It was the hottest July day in five years. By tomorrow, however, the temperature should have slipped to about 25C (77F).
This is the second smog episode this month. On 2 July, air quality across much of England and Wales was deemed to be 'poor' under the Government's banding system.
For ozone, the most important summer smog pollutant, the poor band starts at a concentration in air of 90 parts per billion. Instruments at government monitoring stations in East Anglia and Oxfordshire recorded levels slightly above this level, with the highest reading of 107ppb detected in Derbyshire. Other stations in the south-east and central England picked up concentrations approaching 90 ppb.
Labour and Friends of the Earth attacked the Government for putting out only a low-key warning on Monday, suggesting drivers should 'consider carefully whether use of their cars was necessary'. With the railways almost shut down today and the Automobile Association forecasting a surge in road traffic, the plea is unlikely to have any impact.
Labour yesterday launched cleaner air policies advocating a long-term switch from private to public transport plus more immediate measures to cut air pollution. The party's environment spokesman, Chris Smith, said councils should be given powers to reduce car traffic and promote cycling, walking and public transport in order to achieve local air quality standards. While the Government would set a minimum standard, councils could choose a higher one if they wished.
He said pilot schemes of 'pollution charging' where cars would be charged for entering city centres should be tried, and pollution cameras could be used to identify the relatively small number of badly tuned and maintained vehicles which contribute disproportionately to pollution. Measures to speed up the fitting of catalytic converters were also needed.
Dr John Ayres, a Birmingham chest consultant who advises the Government and the National Asthma Campaign, estimated that about a million asthma sufferers were likely to experience extra discomfort and wheeziness because of the high levels of ozone and nitrogen dioxide. Some people with chest illnesses such as chronic bronchitis were also affected.
Leading article, page 17
Weather, page 22
- 1 The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election
- 2 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
Three killed at South Korean nuclear reactor days after hackers target country's atomic agency
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...