Birmingham public health officials have issued a warning to people with lung and heart problems as the city braces itself for higher than average levels of air pollution over the next few days.
The warning comes as Britain braces itself for a potentially dangerous cloud of air pollution blowing in from Europe and mixing with home-grown smog.
Birmingham will see air pollution climb to moderate levels today and , while that does not pose a health threat for the general population, officials have warned it could trigger health difficulties for those with respiratory illnesses and the elderly.
Birmingham Public Health consultant John Denley said: “We would strongly advise people with lung or heart problems and older people to reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors – especially if they experience any symptoms.
“People with asthma should make sure they take an inhaler with them and they may need to use it more often.
“If you experience any discomfort, such as sore eyes, cough or sore throat, you should consider reducing activity, particularly outdoors.”
Dr Penny Woods, head of the British Lung Foundation, added: “During periods of moderate or high pollution, people with respiratory conditions can find their conditions worsening.
“To minimise this impact, people should avoid pollution hotspots, such as busy roads. They should also avoid strenuous exercise outside and those who use a reliever inhaler should make sure that they carry it with them.
“If anyone feels that their condition is worsening, they should contact their GP – don’t just wait for the pollution to subside.”
Who is most at risk from the effects of air pollution?
Most people won’t notice any problems when there is smog, but people who have heart conditions and/or lung diseases – including asthma – might notice their symptoms get worse. This is especially true for older people.
If you are affected, alter your treatment the way you normally do when your symptoms get worse. For example, if you have asthma you can use your ‘reliever inhaler’. You should talk to your doctor if this doesn’t work.
Avoid any strenuous outdoor activity if you have noticed that your breathing is affected on hot, sunny days. This reduces your exposure to ozone.
Air pollution updates
You can find updates on air pollution at Defra’s UK air information resource pages and from Defra’s freephone helpline on 0800 55 66 77. The helpline also offers health advice.
Air pollution is described as low, moderate, high or very high. Find out more about these air pollution health bandings.
The @healthybrum Twitter account tweets a daily air pollution forecast. Follow the account here: https://twitter.com/healthybrum