Air pollution levels were forecast to return to low and moderate levels today after days of health warnings partly due to African sandstorms.
North West Norfolk saw levels of air pollution rise to the most extreme point on a Government scale after winds carried dust from the Sahara and emissions from Europe into the area.
Those elements mixed with local pollution, then the winds dropped, leaving potentially harmful particles hanging in our air. Large swathes of East Anglia were affected.
Dr Rupert Read, Green party Euro election candidate, said: “These extremely high levels of pollution highlight just how serious a threat bad air is to our health.
“We need to do what we can to resist the threat. That means towns and cities need to reduce the level of air pollution in their streets by cutting the amount of traffic, for example, and by cancelling incinerator projects as hopefully we are on the verge of doing in King’s Lynn.”
The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) advised adults and children with lung problems, adults with heart problems and older people to avoid strenuous physical activity during the problem period, which started Tuesday and ran until yesterday.
It said people with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often.
Even those without additional health issues, were warned to reduce physical exertion, particularly outdoors, especially if symptoms such as cough or sore throat were experienced.
A (Defra) spokesperson said: “The high level of air pollution this week is due to a combination of local emissions, light winds, pollution from the continent and dust blown over from the Sahara.”
Red dust settled on the ground or cars could have been Sahara sand that had been carried in rain droplets.
Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and The Woottons Surgery, in North Wootton, had not noted any increase in patients with respiratory issues.
Of nine specific West Norfolk locations where air pollution is forecast, including Lynn, Terrington, Gayton and Downham, The Queen’s residence – Sandringham house – was the only one to have a less than “Very High” pollution rating on Wednesday. Sandringham’s House’s forecast was High.
Lynn New reader Lucy Janeiro, on email, said: “I myself and many others I know have been feeling unwell with respiratory problems, tight chest, fever etc.
“It may make people rethink the incinerator plans.”