Saturday, August 20

Smog and pollution alert as Sahara dust cloud cloaks Britain turning skies red



A striking sunset picture taken in Norwich Sands swept to Britain from the SAHARA have caused incredibly vivid blood-red sunrises across the UK this morning.

However, the dust storm will bring killer smog and “blood rain” today, it is feared.

Asthmatics have been warned to stay indoors – as have people suffering other health problems. A smog alert has been issued for much of the UK as the African sand smothered the land.

And Britain could face the warmest December for 70 years as ¬temperatures soar to 16C – 10C higher than the average for this time of year. Experts warned those with chest ¬problems to avoid strenuous exercise.

Asthma UK’s Andrew Proctor said: “People with asthma must take extra care this week. “We are facing a perfect storm of asthma triggers, with air pollution and weather changes increasing the risk of potentially fatal asthma attacks.”

Defra added: “There is a risk of moderate or high levels of air pollution due to Saharan dust. “Those with lung or heart problems should reduce ¬strenuous physical exertion, ¬particularly outdoors.”

A mix of desert sand and ¬downpours could spark a deluge of “blood rain” – where it gets into the water droplets – leaving a fine layer of red dust.

Satellite images show the mass of fog swirling in the Atlantic ocean.

The worst affected areas will be Central and Eastern England where a level seven warning was issued. But London, the South East and the West Country are also on smog alert.

A cloud of dust is being swept across Europe from the Sahara desert and will hit Britain on Thursday, carried by turbulent weather systems created above the Atlantic, according to forecasters.

The Department for Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Defra) has issued alerts across southern and central England. A level-7 red warning – meaning ‘high’ – is in place for a pocket of Norfolk and Lincolnshire with toxic fog and dust expected to engulf the region.

Dust can cause your lungs to work less well because the particles can cause the linings in the airways to become inflamed , leading to breathing problems.

Pollution can make people with asthma or heart and lung diseases more sensitive to triggers that make their condition worse.

And children with asthma are particularly vulnerable to pollution as when they play outdoors they have faster breathing rates and their lungs are still developing.

In extreme cases, the temporary short-term effects of being exposed to smog can include illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

They also include discomfort such as irritation to the nose, throat, eyes, or skin and headaches, dizziness, and nausea. This weather follows a similar rise in pollution in March, when a build-up of smog in Paris blew across the Channel and settled in the UK.

Showers of rain then brought down the dust in what is known as “blood rain”.

Before that in spring 2014 the UK was once again affected by dust clouds. On that occasion the emergency services reported a surge in call-outs to patients with breathing problems.

At the time, 1.6 million people suffered an asthma attack as smog filled the air, Asthma UK said. Every year, it is estimated 29,000 premature deaths here are caused by poor air quality.