‘High’ ozone air pollution warning issued

Defra has issued an air pollution alert for the north west and south east of England, after high levels of Ozone were detected at three monitoring stations yesterday evening (26 June).

And, in its air pollution forecast for today provided on the UK Air website, the further possibility of ‘isolated’ High air pollution levels around coastal areas adjacent to the Bristol Channel and Northern Ireland and the Firth of Clyde have also been predicted.

Soaring temperatures have led to warnings over high levels of air pollutants

According to the forecast, the dry and sunny weather, with light winds will allow for widespread areas of moderate air pollution across much of central and western England, western Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

High levels of ozone were monitored at three sites yesterday, exceeding the 180µg/m3 one hour concentration threshold that determines when a public health warning must be issued.

These included two sites in the north west, at Wigan and Glazebury, and Chilbolton Observatory in Hampshire.

In its air pollution warning, UK Air stated: “Public Health England advises that some people are more sensitive to pollution than others 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 to alleviate symptoms. If affected, people are urged to take sensible precautions. In particular, avoiding exercise outdoors in the afternoon can reduce individual exposure to ozone.”


High ozone levels are most common during summer months in Europe due to the warmer temperatures and higher levels of solar radiation.

Ozone is formed in the atmosphere from emissions of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides from vehicles, organic compounds and methane from agriculture, which react with sunlight. Once formed, ozone can remain in the atmosphere for many days.

Ground-level ozone pollution has been associated with risks including lung inflammation, decreased lung function and an increase in asthma attacks.

In 2013, a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute’s York Centre estimated that ozone pollution cost the lives of 460 people in the UK during the 2006 heatwave (see story).

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