Desert dust from Sahara causing 'very high' pollution levels

Desert dust from the Sahara is sweeping across the Midlands today, thanks to a continental air flow which has travelled all the way from Africa.

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Saharan smog sparks surge in 999 calls

The recent Saharan smog which descended on the Midlands in recent days has sparked a rise in the number of 999 calls, ambulance bosses have revealed.

The increased in the number of people calling the emergency services suffering breathing problems and chest pain was largely in Staffordshire and Birmingham.

West Midlands Ambulance Service medical director Andrew Carson said breathing problems normally account for 11 per cent of the number of calls, but this week accounted for 12 per cent.

Smog covers Chatsworth House in Derbyshire Credit: David Nunn

And chest pain - which usually makes up 10.5 per cent of 999 calls - rose to 13 per cent.

Daily figures for calls reporting breathing or chest problems were largely level at around 460 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday last week.

But the corresponding figures for the first three days of this week were 547, 510 and 501.

Mr Carson added:

A prolonged period of these conditions poses real difficulties to those patients with emphysema, asthma and long term breathing problems.

Air pollution and smog can make breathing difficult even for healthy individuals. That’s why we suggest people with respiratory illnesses should remain indoors as much as possible.

Forecasters predict the smog should clear away by tomorrow.

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Smog sees increase in West Midlands 999 calls

West Midlands Ambulance Service has experienced a noticeable spike in call-outs linked to breathing problems and chest pains.

Daily figures for calls reporting breathing or chest problems were largely level at around 460 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday last week.

But the corresponding figures for the first three days of this week were 547, 510 and 501.

The service covers Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

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More Sahara dust expected to blanket Britain

The Environment Agency Manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Dave Throup has warned that more dust from the Sahara desert is expected to blanket parts of the country this evening.

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Pollution levels high in the south east, east and London

Record levels of air pollution will continue to parts of the UK, with pollution levels already reaching level nine - high - this morning in the south east, Greater London and eastern England.

Defra ranks air pollution from one to 10, with one being the lowest and 10 the highest.

Low pollution areas are green, very high levels of pollution are marked in purple. Credit: Defra/Met Office

"Very high" levels of pollution are also forecast later today for the East Midlands.

  1. Chris Halpin

Desert dust leaves the Midlands in unhealthy haze

Air pollution levels in some parts of the Central region have been the highest in the country today, as a combination of weather factors came together to create an unhealthy haze.

One of those factors was a storm in the Sahara desert thousands of miles away which has sent dust particles high into the atmosphere, which are now falling as sand and grit across the country.

It's been causing real problems for people with existing medical conditions, and those who have heart or lung problems are being urged to avoid strenuous activity. Chris Halpin reports.

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Advice for asthma sufferers as pollution levels rise

Asthma UK has issued advice for sufferers as pollution levels are set to hit "high" and "very high" levels in parts of the country.

The charity urges asthma sufferers to check the air pollution forecast for their area on the Defra website and if levels are high:

  • Avoid strenuous exercise outside
  • Avoid visiting congested areas, particularly in the afternoon
  • Keep on top of asthma symptoms with an asthma action plan
  • Have your reliever inhaler with you at all times

If you think that you may be having an asthma attack, take one to two puffs of your reliever inhaler (usually blue), immediately.

Sit down and try to take slow, steady breaths - if you do not feel any better, take another two puffs of the reliever inhaler every two minutes, up to ten puffs.

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