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Saharan dust and air pollution combine to create toxic smog over Kent

Health chiefs have warned those with breathing problems such as asthma to be on their guard tomorrow as Saharan dust and pollution combines to create a toxic smog over Kent.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says air pollutants will be high to very high over Kent.

People could experience sore eyes and throat due to the poor air quality, which could also exacerbate existing breathing problems.  

This map from DEFRA shows the worst affected areas

This map from DEFRA shows the worst affected areas

 Andrew Scott-Clark, director of public health for Kent, said: “People with asthma may find they are using more of their reliever inhaler, and that is quite normal.

“If you experience any symptoms, sore eyes, sore throat or a cough, the advice is to reduce strenuous activity outdoors” – Andrew Scott-Clark, director of public health for Kent

“The advice really is to avoid strenuous activity outdoors.

“For the general population, if you experience any symptoms, sore eyes, sore throat or a cough, the advice is to reduce strenuous activity outdoors.”

Defra said the bad air quality is not a result of more pollution than normal, although a little extra will be brought on a mild breeze from northern Europe.

Instead, it has been caused by still weather conditions that mean pollutants that would normally be carried away remain at ground level.

Helen Roberts from the Met Office explained.

“We’ve got hardly any wind and stronger sunshine and that leads to a higher level of air pollution that then hangs around. 

“As the high pressure just moves a bit that will allow a southeasterly breeze to bring some extra pollutants from the continent.

“In addition to that, there may also be a small amount of Saharan dust in the air.”

In addition to the smog, Kent may experience so-called ‘blood rain’ over the weekend.

Saharan dust could fall on Kent over the weekend

Saharan dust could fall on Kent over the weekend

This phenomenon occurs when red dust transported from desert regions falls in rain drops, which dry and leave dusty crimson spots on some surfaces. 

Ms Roberts said: “We have a weather front coming through friday night into saturday night. It’s quite a weak feature, it won’t give us much rain but it’ll be just enough to bring some of that dust down and leave it on things like cars.” 


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