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A cloud of smog described as an 'invisible menace' prompted a major health warning today as air pollution in our region reached some of its highest and most dangerous levels.
Warm, still conditions combined with traffic fumes, pollution from the continent and dust from the Sahara desert pose a serious threat to the young and elderly suffering from respiratory diseases - particularly in the East Sussex area.
Warnings were issued to those with heart and lung conditions to keep medication close by and avoid strenuous activity. Andy Dickenson reports and we hear from Andrew Grieve, air quality analyst, Dr Yvonne Doyle from Public Health England, and Tim Hutchings, founder of the Brighton Marathon.
Air pollution like that seen today in the South, shortens people's lives by 6 months, according to Andrew Grieve. He's an air quality analyst and says government data confirms the long-term damage on health.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed there are currently five regions which have been affected by high pollution today:
- South East
- Greater London
- West Midlands
- Yorkshire & Humberside
Doctors are warning those with heart or lung problems or asthma to stay indoors and avoid heavy activity outside due to the air pollution today.
Dr Yvonne Doyle from Public Health England told ITV News: "If you're fit and healthy you probably will notice nothing. But if you have heart and lung conditions then you need to ease of quite a bit on heavy activity."
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed that a sixth region has been added to its list of areas which have been affected by high pollution today.
The east Midlands is now experiencing high pollution levels along with the east of England, south east, greater London, west Midlands and Yorkshire & Humberside:
Air pollution levels have been classed as 'high' and 'very high' in parts of England today, as experts warned those with heart conditions, lung problems, or asthma to stay indoors and avoid heavy activity outside.
Contributing factors that have added to the rising levels of pollution include:
- Pollutants from sources such as traffic fumes which are being trapped by the warm still weather conditions so they do not disperse
- A light south easterly breeze is bringing more pollutants from the continent
- A small amount of dust from the Sahara is sweeping across the country
- Very fine particles, known as PM2.5 and coming primarily from vehicle exhausts and other fossil fuel burning activities, are being carried in the air which reduce visibility and make the air look hazy
The high levels of air pollution reported across the UK today has turned the air hazy in parts of the country.
ITV News' Science Correspondent Alok Jha said the pollution above Folkestone meant the sea views from a hill overlooking the town had been distorted by the air quality.
The British Lung Foundation has given advice for anyone whose health is being affected by the high levels of pollution:
- Avoid busy roads
- Refrain from strenuous exercise
- If you have an inhaler - make sure you are carrying it
This latest high air pollution episode, coming so soon after the last, is troubling, and could again put people living with respiratory conditions at risk of worsening symptoms
Adults and children with health problems should avoid heavy activity due to the risk of a 'very high' level of pollution in the South.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have put out a health warning in response to the combination of fumes, warm weather and Saharan dust.
Those at risk are being warned to reduce all physical activity, particularly if they begin to get a sore throat.
Asthma patients will be particularly affected.
Adults and children with lung problems, adults with heart problems, and older people, should avoidstrenuous physical activity. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often.