Pollution levels reach record highs with temperatures

Environmentalists have warned that the recent heatwave has led to pollution levels breaking Government health guidelines.

Friends of the Earth announced the publication of research which shows that summertime smog levels broke Government health limits at 76 out of 80 Government pollution monitoring sites last week

The research found that smog levels at 25 sites around the country broke health limits every day from Monday 4th to Sunday 10th August. Four London boroughs, Brent, Haringey, Hillingdon and Teddington, parts of Essex and the Southern part of England broke these health limits for the week.

However, of greater concern was the fact that in Bournemouth (Sat 9th), Harwell (Sat 9th), Portsmouth (Sat 9th), Wicken Fen (Weds 6th), and Wigan Leigh (Sat 9th) pollution levels reached more than double the health standard.

Friends of the Earth’s Pollution Campaigner Tony Bosworth stated, ‘Our record-breaking sunshine has brought a lot of smog, breaching health standards nationwide. And because of the way ozone pollution travels, people who tried to escape the heat of our cities for a breath of fresh air will have found they got just the opposite.’

‘The Government must do more to tackle the source of the pollution by cutting the amount of traffic on our roads. Widening motorways won’t help us breathe more easily: the Government should be spending more on giving people real alternatives to using cars.’

The main pollutant is ozone, which is caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as petrol in cars and coal on bar-b-ques. Ozone causes coughing and choking, headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation and chest discomfort on deep breathing.

Ozone also aggravates the chest condition asthma and recent research from California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board’s Children’s Health Study showed that ozone could cause asthma.

Government health experts have estimated that ozone pollution causes up to 12,500 premature deaths and up to 9,900 additional hospital admissions for respiratory problems every year. Friends of the Earth warned that global climate change is likely to make the problem worse.