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Forecast

Air Pollution Forecast from King's College London Environmental Research Group

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Annual air quality assessment and related reports.

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Health Advice

Key Points:

  • Pollution levels in the UK are unlikely to cause any serious health effects in most people.
  • Young children, the elderly and those who suffer from respiratory problems such as lung disease, asthma or bronchitis may be more sensitive to air pollution.
  • The Government's Air Quality Bands describe the health impact of varying levels of pollution on these sensitive individuals.
  • Health advice is available from Defra's Air Pollution Information Service.

Photo of a clear sky For most people, pollution levels in the UK are unlikely to cause any serious health effect; during particularly severe pollution episodes, eye irritation or coughing may be triggered. Certain sensitive individuals who are more susceptible to respiratory pollution may feel the effects more acutely, or at lower levels. These individuals include those who suffer from heart and lung disease, including asthma and bronchitis, especially young children and the elderly.

Pollution bulletins produced in Ealing Council are based on the Government's Air Pollution Banding system. These bands have been set using the latest research on the medical effects of air pollution on health and are intended to make air quality information more meaningful. The table below shows the four bands and their impact on the health of people who are sensitive to air pollution:

Pollution Band (Index) Health Impact
Low (1-3) Effects are unlikely to be noticed, even by people who know they are sensitive to air pollution.
Moderate (4-6) Mild effects are unlikely to require action, but may be noticed by sensitive people.
High (7-9) Sensitive people may notice significant effects, and may have to take action to reduce or avoid them (for example, by reducing time spend outdoors). Asthmatics will find that their 'reliever' inhaler is likely to reverse the effects of pollution on their lungs.
Very High (10) The effects on sensitive people, described for 'high' levels of pollution, may worsen.

Photo of a child blowing a dandelion Actual effects will, of course, vary from person to person, and individuals will learn from experience how they are affected by pollution. The Government has issued the following guidelines to sensitive individuals. These guidelines are taken from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (Defra's) Air Pollution Information Service:

Health advice for people with lung disorders and others sensitive to air pollution
If you have asthma or another lung disease, your symptoms are unlikely to change when air pollution levels are 'low' or 'moderate'. This applies whatever the time of year. However, your symptoms may get worse when air pollution reaches the 'high' or 'very high' bands, especially if you are elderly. If this happens and you suffer from asthma, you may need to change your treatment in the usual way. If this doesn't help, consult your doctor.
Asthma There is little evidence that air pollution itself causes asthma. However, if you already have asthma, you may find that air pollution triggers an attack, although infections and allergens are more likely to do so.
Smoking Smoking is likely to have a much more serious effect on your health than air pollution. Giving up smoking will cut down your risk of lung and heart disease considerably. It will also make you less vulnerable to the short-term effects of air pollution.
In winter If traffic fumes make breathing harder, avoid busy streets as much as you can. If you are elderly, stay indoors as much as possible and keep warm.
In summer If you find it harder to breathe on hot sunny days, avoid energetic outdoor activities, especially in the afternoons when pollution levels tend to be higher. If your child has asthma, they should be able to take part in games as normal, but they may need to use their reliever inhaler more before they start. They do not need to stay away from school.

Source: Defra Information Service

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