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Defra issues ozone air pollution alert

A warning over high ozone levels in the south east of England has been issued by government, after hot weather led to increased ground ozone levels at a number of monitoring sites yesterday evening.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) issued the alert yesterday (21 June), after monitoring sites were reported to have exceeded the EU ozone public information threshold of 180µg/m3.

Soaring temperatures have caused increased ground level ozone in some areas

Sites reported to have exceeded the threshold include London Harlington, Northampton, Brighton and Lullington Heath.

The episode is thought to have been caused by a high pressure system persisting over the UK which has brought warm and still conditions, resulting in increased ground level ozone.

Warning

In a statement, the Department said: “Some people are more sensitive to ozone 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.

“Some people are more sensitive to ozone 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. 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 airqualitynews.com story).

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