Ozone pollution forecast as Britain bears heatwave

Forecasters warn people to take safety precautions as 32 to 33C weather triggers air pollution concern

Moderate to high air pollution levels are forecast across Britain today (July 1), on what is expected to be one of the hottest days of the year.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has reported pollution will be moderate throughout most of the country, but could reach potentially high levels in parts of East Anglia.

July 1 could become one of the hottest days of 2015, experts predict

July 1 could become one of the hottest days of 2015, experts predict

Friends of the Earth Scotland has meanwhile issued a high pollution warning, predicting that air safety standards could be broken in 31 Scottish councils.

Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, advised people with heart and lung problems such as asthma and emphysema to remain indoors and reduce ‘strenuous’ physical activity.

She added: “To combat the worst of the air pollution impacts, the government should advise people to avoid driving. But it must also introduce longer term measures to reduce traffic levels on our streets.”


And in London, air pollution levels are expected to fluctuate between different areas according to the capital’s airTEXT service. Pollution in the north and west of the city in areas such as Hillingdon, Harrow and Stanmore is forecast to be high, with levels in central London more moderate. The service adds residents may notice mild health effects and advises spending less time outdoors and taking medication if required.

The warnings come as Britain braces for a day that the Met Office has predicted could become the hottest of the year — with temperatures climbing to 32 or 33C.

This latest spell of air pollution is understood to be significant in terms of ground-level ozone, a secondary pollutant which forms from gases such as nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of solar light.

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


In response to today’s hot weather, Public Health England has advised people stay hydrated with ‘plenty of cool drinks’ and keep indoor areas as cool as possible.

Dr Paul Cosford, director for Health Protection at Public Health England, said: “While many people enjoy hot weather, high temperatures can be dangerous, especially for people who may be particularly vulnerable such as older people, young children and those with serious illnesses.

“A trip to a park where there’s lots of shade or a public building that is air conditioned, may help offer some relief from the heat for vulnerable people.”


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