Warm spring weather, combined with dust storms and strong winds, is increasing pollution levels, especially in urban areas, according to the government’s latest forecast.
A dust storm from the Sahara has brought red sand to southern parts of England, which has covered cars in London and forced people with respiratory problems to stay indoors.
Paul Hutcheon from the Met Office said, “We usually see this happen several times a year when big dust storms in the Sahara coincide with southerly winds to bring that dust here. More dust rain is possible during showers expected later this week.”
The phenomenon, along with strong winds and warmer spring temperatures, has worsened air pollution levels in urban centres, especially in the southern and eastern parts of the country.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has warned to expect “high to very high” levels of pollution in East Anglia and south-east England, which will be exacerbate by warm temperature between 17C and 20C.
High levels of air pollution have recently hit Paris and forced the local government to take measures such as offering free public transport and halve the number of cars on the roads.
Many areas of the UK have excessive levels of pollution and the UK has previously been brought to court by the European commission over its air quality.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation said in March that air pollution was responsible for the death of 7 million people in 2012 and previously classified air pollutants as the most widespread environmental carcinogen.
Photo: Tom Soper Photography via Flickr