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Large parts of NI record high levels of air pollution

By Staff Reporter

Swathes of Northern Ireland were engulfed in high levels of air pollution yesterday, according to officials.

Many parts of the UK have been suffering from very high or high levels of air pollution in the still, cold weather.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said high pollution levels were being monitored in Armagh, Belfast, Londonderry and Newry yesterday.

Moderate levels were recorded in some other urban centres across Northern Ireland. However, air quality was expected to improve from last night and into today as winds strengthen.

During periods of high pollution the symptoms of people with lung or heart disease may worsen. Healthy people are unlikely to experience any ill effects.

The high levels of pollution are believed to be the result of local sources such as road vehicles and home heating emissions combined with cold, calm weather conditions in which pollutants are not dispersed.

In very bad conditions, people are advised to limit exercise outside, while those with lung and heart problems and older people should avoid strenuous activity.

Where there is high air pollution, adults and children with lung problems and adults with heart problems, as well as older people, should reduce the amount of strenuous exercise they do.

All regions of England except for the North East suffered high levels of air pollution yesterday, as well as South Wales.

The Green Party's Baroness Jones accused the Government of not doing enough to warn people elsewhere in the country of the issue.

And she said: "When air pollution episodes are capable of triggering an extra 300 deaths as well as hundreds of emergency admissions to hospitals around the country, I think that we have to consider emergency measures to discourage driving, encourage a switch away from diesel and promote less polluting alternatives."

NI pollution updates are available at www.airqualityni.co.uk and DAERA's freephone helpline (0800 556 677)

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