Government issues health warning as air pollution reaches highest grade in Norwich

Buses on Castle Meadow have been told to not leave their engines running as the city tries to get ai

Buses on Castle Meadow have been told to not leave their engines running as the city tries to get air pollution levels down. Photo: Archant. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The elderly and people with lung and heart conditions are being warned to reduce the amount of strenuous exercise they are doing amid 'very high' pollution levels in Norwich.

Foggy and still conditions, which are expected to last until Wednesday, mean car and bus emissions are not being blown away.

The warning has been issued across the East of England, but urban areas will be the hardest hit.

The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs Norwich monitoring site in the residential area of Lakenfields, off Long John Hill, has recorded the highest level on the PM 2.5 particles index. The measurement of small particles which are created in car exhausts.

Green Party Norfolk county councillor Andrew Boswell, who represents the Nelson ward in Norwich, said the cold weather had brought the really bad air quality across the south-east of England.

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'What we are seeing with this warning is the air pollution can be very very bad in Norwich just like it can be in big cities like London.'

He said the city and county council needed to take a more proactive approach, and a particular strategy for tackling diesel emissions.

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Mr Boswell the issue was being acknowledged locally, but the councils had not yet got themselves into gear.

'In this cold weather it happen a lot. Cold weather traps the air pollution in. It is a nasty cocktail.'

Claire Reeves, from the environmental sciences department at the University of East Anglia, said she did not see any reason for Norwich to be worse than any other city or major town. But said the high levels would be related to weather and the underlying emissions relating to how traffic is managed.

In a statement, the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs said: 'During periods of high air pollution adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors, and particularly if they experience symptoms. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often. Older people should also reduce physical exertion.

'Anyone experiencing discomfort such as sore eyes, cough or sore throat should consider reducing activity, particularly outdoors.'

<t>For the latest forecasts and health advice, please visit the Defra UK Air website and alerts for high levels of air pollution are issued by Defra via the Air UK Twitter account @DefraUKAir.

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