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Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 05 8:40 am    Post subject: DEFRA WARNS OF SUMMER SMOG  Reply with quote    


A summer smog episode is forecast for tomorrow (23 June), Defra has today warned.

Smog can have impacts on human health, particularly for those with heart and lung disease.

Some people are more sensitive to air pollution and may begin to notice an effect on their breathing. People with asthma are not necessarily more sensitive but, if affected, can use their 'reliever' inhaler.

As a result, people sensitive to air pollution are urged to take sensible precautions like avoiding exercise outdoors in the afternoon, which can reduce exposure to ozone.

Summer smog is produced by sun acting on substances in the lower atmosphere such as car fumes and solvents, producing ground level ozone. Smog can also contain elevated levels nitrogen dioxide and breathable dust, known as particulate matter.

People can help reduce smog by avoiding making unnecessary short car journeys wherever possible, by walking, cycling or making use of public transport instead.

Ben Bradshaw, Minister for Local Environmental Quality said:

"Air pollution, combined with the recent warm and sunny weather has led to a summer smog.

"People sensitive to air pollution, such as those with heart and lung disease, should be aware of the heightened risk to their health so they can take sensible precautions , such as avoiding exertion outdoors on hot afternoons."

High ozone levels are forecast tomorrow for London, the south-east, East Anglia and central England.

These levels are likely to persist until Saturday, after which cooler conditions and more changeable weather is forecast.

These pollutants come from a range of sources, but transport is a major contributor.

Ben Bradshaw continued:

"We can all help to reduce the current high levels of pollutants by avoiding unnecessary car journeys by walking, cycling and taking public transport instead.

"Air pollution is something that can affect human health. During the 2003 heatwave, it was estimated, on the basis of previous work, that up to 800 premature deaths may have occurred as a result of the poor air quality.

"Fortunately, such episodes are becoming less frequent and severe due to large reductions in pollution from vehicles and industry following tighter regulation in the last few decades.

Regular updates on levels of particulate matter (PM10), sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide are available on:

* TELETEXT (page 156), the Internet http://www.airquality.co.uk (Air Quality Information Archive)

* Defra freephone helpline - 0800 556677 - which also offers health advice to those who may be particularly sensitive to air pollution.

Notes for editors

Air Quality Measurement and Forecasts

Air pollution is described as "Low (1-3)", "Moderate (4-6)", "High (7-9)" or "Very High (10)" The classifications were chosen on the basis of effects on health and are based on the latest medical and scientific research. Full details of the bands for all the pollutants are available on the Defra website.

In addition to the sources of air quality information described in the press release, the information and the air pollution forecast is also sent by e-mail, free of charge, daily to a variety of outlets including regional and national newspapers, television and radio stations, environmental groups, local authorities, and international organisations (e.g. RIVM in the Netherlands). If you would like to be added to this individual service, ring the Government's contractors at the National Environmental Technology Centre (Paul Willis on 0870 190 6602)

Health Advice

The following advice on health applies when air pollution is "high" or "very high"

"During episodes of air pollution experienced during the summer in the United Kingdom, levels of ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particles may be raised. Most people will experience no ill effects. Those suffering from lung diseases (including asthma) particularly if elderly should be aware that their symptoms might worsen. They may need to consider modifying their treatment as they usually do when symptoms increase, consulting their doctor if this is not effective.

People who have noticed in the past that their breathing is affected on hot, sunny days should avoid strenuous outdoor activity, particularly in the afternoon. Children with asthma should be able to take part in games in the usual way, although they may need to increase their use of reliever medicines before participating. There is no need for them to stay away from school.

Those suffering from a heart condition and who notice a change in their symptoms should get medical advice as they normally would."

Health advice is also available on TELETEXT (Page 156).

August 2003 heatwave

Defra-funded research to estimate the expected impacts on deaths attributable to air pollution during the August heatwave used a theoretical relationship between ozone and PM10 concentrations and deaths, derived from previous studies relating ozone and PM10 levels to mortality. The estimate uses the actual pollutant levels during the heatwave but not actual deaths data, which was not yet available in a form required for a full study. See: http://www.airquality.co.uk/archive/reports/cat09/0401130931_heatwave2003.pdf

[Levels of ozone and PM10 were much higher during the August 2003 heatwave than is forecast on this occasion.]

Presentation of the information

When air pollution levels are presented to the public, an overall summary is provided followed by pollutant specific information. When the overall summary is presented for each region, levels of air pollution are described as those occurring in the highest band for any individual pollutant. For example, if levels of all pollutants in a region were low, with the exception of one pollutant that was high, then in the overall summary the air pollution for that region would be described as "high".

Action individuals can take to reduce pollution.

Road vehicles are a major source of many pollutants in urban areas. Before using your car ask yourself - do I really need to make this journey? Do I really need to use the car, or could I walk or cycle?

If you must drive, switch off the engine if you expect to be stationary for more than a couple of minutes, and drive smoothly - it will save you fuel and money and you will emit less pollution. Avoid overfilling the petrol tank and spilling petrol - this evaporates and releases hydrocarbons that are toxic and form ozone.

Buy water-based or low-solvent paints, glues, varnishes, and wood preservatives wherever you can.

Avoid burning solid fuels if you can.

Public enquiries 08459 335577;
Press notices are available on our website
Defra's aim is sustainable development

Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR
Website http://www.defra.gov.uk

Mrs Fiddlesticks

Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 10460

PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 05 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

as anyone who has ever wandered through a busy town/city with these large belching smelly old buses crawling around the streets I'm not sure that all forms of public transport are as good as they can be.

Sensible warning for those affected, but not really sure what individuals can do and I guess that will be the problem like the recycling, people will wonder why they should bother. If you have to be somewhere today and there is no other way to go but by car, then you're going to go aren't you? If the government was really serious they'd have given the country the day off!

Dear Mr Blair...


Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 05 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Quite a few new buses have been introduced around Leeds recently and their performance in terms of visible pollution and smell is much better. Only several thousand more to go....

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