Warning to Hertfordshire residents about air pollution due to Sahara desert dust

Saharan dust on black bonnet of car in Hertfordshire and, inset, showing magnified view of the particles (Pic: David Hatton) Saharan dust on black bonnet of car in Hertfordshire and, inset, showing magnified view of the particles (Pic: David Hatton)

Thursday, April 3, 2014
11:40 AM

Hertfordshire residents are being encouraged to keep safe and avoid strenuous exercise after a rise in air pollution levels.

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Sand and dust from the Sahara desert has swept into the country, and is particularly affecting the south and east of England, after strong gales.

There is no major adverse health impact from the dust long term, and many people will not notice much difference other than a haze in the atmosphere.

Hertfordshire County Council is warning people who have asthma or get breathless as they are particularly vulnerable to the dust, which could cause serious problems in some cases.

They are also advising against strenuous activity, such as cycling or running, until the pollution clears.

Teresa Heritage, cabinet member for public health at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “We’ve seen a rise in pollution levels due to a mix of fine sand in the atmosphere from the Sahara, prevailing weather conditions and particles from traffic and other activity.

“It’s particularly high in parts of eastern England and is forecast to be here until Friday when it gets much fresher and we expect some rain.”

DEFRA has also issued advice.

A spokesman said: “Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors, and particularly if they experience symptoms.

“People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often.

“Older people should also reduce physical exertion.”

You can get more information from UK Air, a DEFRA website, via http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk

If you are worried and are likely to experience breathlessness or have symptoms call for advice on the NHS non-emergency number 111.

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