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BREAKING: High air pollution alert for South Wales

DEFRA has confirmed air quality has passed thresholds in Port Talbot on Wednesday 11th May. 

A high air pollution alert has been issued for South Wales this morning by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). 

The Port Talbot area has an alert for high levels of PM10 particulate matter, registering as 7 (High) on the air pollution index, with 10 being the worst (Very High). 

Particulates are classified according to their size, with PM10 referring to any inhalable particle with a parameter of 10 micrometres or smaller. Unlike the smaller PM2.5 particles, they cannot permeate the bloodstream but easily enter the lungs and higher respiratory track, causing damage and inflammation. There is also an environmental impact. High concentrations can change the nutrient balance in coastal waters, lakes and rivers, deplete nutrients from soil and damage crops. 

In 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) listed Port Talbot as the most polluted place in the UK, but the organisation later apologised and admitted that the claim was made in error. 

Earlier this year, air pollution levels in Yorkshire & Humberside hit 10, the worst possible level with potentially serious implications for vulnerable children, adults and older people, leading to advice for people to avoid any strenuous physical activity. The highest levels were recorded in Leeds and Hull. 

Elsewhere in the UK, London has also seen a number of air pollution warnings issued this year. Research also found that every medical centre and hospital in the capital was located in an area that failed to meet WHO minimum air quality standards, with around 1,700 asthma hospitalisations in the city over the past two years linked to toxic air. 

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