December 18 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Parts of Suffolk and Essex are experiencing high levels of air pollution – with dust blown in from the Sahara desert leaving a thin layer of dirt on many vehicles across the region.
And experts have warned that people should be braced for even more over the next few days.
The East of England and Midlands are the worst-affected areas but large swathes of England and Wales will see high levels of pollution today, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.
The elevated pollution levels have been caused by a combination of light south-easterly winds, the continental air flow and dust which has blown up from the Sahara desert, a spokeswoman said.
According to Defra’s pollution forecast, the people in the region can expect “very high” levels of pollution.
The organisation has a 10 point scale for measuring air quality, with 10 being a warning of very high levels. Towns in Suffolk which will experience that level today include Sudbury and Leiston.
Parts of East Anglia will experience “high” levels and parts of south-east England and the Humber region will experience “moderate” pollution.
“The current elevated pollution levels over parts of the UK are caused by light winds allowing the build-up of pollution, plus dust from the Sahara contributing to pollution levels,” according to the Defra forecast.
However, experts are anticipating “high” or “very high” air pollution levels across much of England and Wales.
And the high levels of pollution are expected to continue across East Anglia and the Midlands tomorrow.
But the air pollution is expected to ebb away by Friday.
At the weekend, some people found their cars to be covered in a light coating of red dust. The Met Office said that a large amount of sand and dust was swept up by storm winds in the Sahara desert.
Experts said that the airborne particles of dust were blown north to the UK where they combined with our warm air and were deposited during showers.
A Defra spokeswoman said: “The high level of air pollution this week is due to a combination of local emissions, light winds, pollution from the continent and dust blown over from the Sahara.
“We want to keep improving air quality and have introduced a new five-day forecast service in addition to investing heavily in local and transport initiatives to tackle this issue head-on.”
Defra has a 10-point scale for measuring air quality - with 1 meaning there is a “low” risk of air pollution and 10 warning of “very high” levels.