UK & World News
UK Smog Set To Ease As Cleaner Winds Move In
Air pollution levels will drop towards the weekend as cleaner winds move in from the Atlantic, Defra has said.
Ambulance services in the UK have reported a spike in the number of emergency calls from people suffering with asthma, lung problems and heart conditions as a result of smog.
The poor air quality has been triggered, in part, by dust from the Sahara Desert whipped up by a large storm in north Africa.
During the day on Thursday, air pollution reached "very high" - the highest on a scale of 1-10 - in London and the South East.
But these levels will drop to moderate or low as the southwesterly winds move in.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "England and Wales will have moderate or low levels of pollution as the cleaner southwesterly winds extend their influence north and east.
"Low levels are expected across Scotland and Northern Ireland."
Sky weather producer Joanna Robinson said: "Air pollution has been a big concern across England and Wales over the last few days, with some locations in the South East reporting very high levels.
"To really improve the air quality we need a change in air mass and the arrival of lower pressure, which will help disperse the pollutants into the higher atmosphere.
"Thankfully, we'll see that change on Friday. Southwesterly winds will develop, bringing in cleaner air from the Atlantic, but it may take some time for eastern England to see the effects.
"Overall there'll be improvements in the air quality going into the weekend, with just low levels of pollution forecast by Sunday."
London Ambulance Service said it had received 14% more 999 calls from people suffering with breathing difficulties. West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed it had also seen a rise in emergency calls.
A poll of asthmatics by the charity Asthma UK also found about a third had suffered an attack as a result of the smog, while 84% had used their blue reliever inhaler more often than usual.
The pollution reached record levels in Harrow, northwest London and Rochester, Kent.
Public Health England has advised adults and children with lung problems, as well as adults with heart conditions, to consider reducing strenuous physical exercise, especially outdoors.
Some of the dust has appeared as red speckles on car windscreens and other outdoor surfaces after being deposited by rain.
However, many of the health fears surround particulates - the tiny chemical particles emitted by diesel-powered cars and industry that can be inhaled deep into the lungs.