Air pollution in Eastbourne is expected to reach a dangerously high level by the end of the week due to toxic dust clouds from the Sahara, experts have said.
According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the south east of England is expected to suffer from very extreme levels of air pollution today (Friday April 10).
However, in Eastbourne, pollution levels are predicted to be so bad that the Met Office colour scale was broken as the air quality index prediction hit 10/10.
A DEFRA spokesperson said, “Current forecasts indicate air pollution levels are expected to rise during the course of the week, with isolated highs possible in localised areas Thursday and high or very high levels on Friday. This is due to locally generated particulate matter combining with pollution blown in from the near continent – and a contribution from Saharan dust.
“The pollution is expected to have cleared by Saturday morning and we will be regularly updating with the latest forecast and health advice.”
The DEFRA website, which has been operating with a holding page after it was hacked by Islamist hackers on Tuesday, states there will be “very high pollution levels for a time in the far southeast of England”.
We are urging people to take extra care and be sensibleSteve Carpenter
Experts have recently suggested the death toll from air pollution, usually put at around 29,000 a year in the UK, could be substantially higher because of the effect of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), emitted during fossil fuel burning, which up until now has not been taken into account.
DEFRA said, “Adults and children with lung problems, adults with heart problems, and older people, should avoid strenuous physical activity. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often.”
For the general population, DEFRA advises people to “reduce physical exertion, particularly outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as cough or sore throat”.
Dr Sotiris Vardoulakis at Public Health England said, “While most people will not be affected by short term peaks in air pollution, some individuals, particularly those with existing heart or lung conditions, may experience increased symptoms. Older people should also reduce physical exertion. Anyone experiencing discomfort such as sore eyes, cough or sore throat should consider reducing activity, particularly outdoors.”
The South East Coast Ambulance Service repeated the warning, and spokesman Steve Carpenter said, “We know that many will be looking to make the most of being out and about at the weekend, but we’re advising anyone with existing medical conditions, which could be exacerbated, to avoid strenuous physical activity. While temperatures are expected to become cooler over the weekend, we are urging people to take extra care and be sensible. This way, and by taking extra care of vulnerable people, everyone can lessen the likelihood of them having to call 999.”