Air pollution levels in London and south-east England were literally off the charts today with some of the highest levels ever recorded.
Enough to cause itchy, watering eyes and severe enough to have children in the far south-east of the country kept in at break time, the smog has seen a large swathe of the country blanketed in a haze since sunrise.London midday
Anyone suffering from a respiratory illness has been advised not to exercise out of doors and to limit their exposure.
A wind coming up from Africa has picked up pollution from the countries it has blown across and then the air system has stalled over the southern portion of the UK. This added to the pollution produced that is usually present here has been compounded by a good amount of sand from a storm raging across the Sahara on Monday.
A thin patina of very fine red sand has been found over the southern half of the country. Most noticeable on cars and on light coloured surfaces, Saharan sand arrives in the UK several times a year but fortunately not usually at the same time as high air pollution.
The pollution forecast is not very good for tomorrow and weather forecasters are hoping for a few heavy showers that will wash much of the sand and pollution out of the air.
The UK is already facing fines from the EU for continuously failing to keep air quality within safe levels.
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Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.
Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.