Sahara dust sparks air pollution warning

By on 02/04/2014 in News

Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips, has issued a warning to people with lung and heart problems as Birmingham braces itself for high levels of air pollution over the next few days.

Forecasters say air pollution levels are set to soar across southern England, the Midlands and East Anglia as local and European emissions mix with dust from the Sahara.

That poses potential health risks and Dr Phillips 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.”

Who is 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.

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