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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2703

Air Pollution in the UK: Saharan dust takes the smog to an alarming level

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

Having woken up on Monday morning, much to our surprise, we found out that our cars were covered with layers of fine yellowish form of dust. At night before, we suffered from itchy eyes and short outbursts of cough in unusual manner, especially in the wee hours. As the dawn broke, the scale of the problem was all too clear: the atmosphere was covered with smog, which, at first, was mistaken for a usual form of fog at the beginning of spring.

As the day wore on, the yellowish powder was identified as none other than the dust from Sahara desert. Last week, there had been massive sandstorms in the North African region of the Sahara desert near Algeria. The dust that went up the atmosphere, then moved towards Europe along with very heavy southerly winds. When it combined with the European share of pollution, a fairly think blanket was formed across the East and South East of England, including London.

The level of pollution in the UK is given by a number on a scale of 1- 10, with 10 being the highest by the government. The level in the last few days has been 10 – the highest. When you are outside, the air you breathe in is no longer the fresh type that usually comes in spring. At the very first contact, you know it is polluted air that causes breathing problems and sore eyes.

The authorities asked the vulnerable – especially those who are having asthmatic conditions and heart problems – to stay indoors. The warning extended even the healthy: not to exercise in the open.

The weather forecasters hope the situation would improve by the weekend. At the time of writing this piece, however, there was no sign of improvement of air quality.

The dangerous weather phenomenon shows how an event that took place thousands of kilometres away, can still cause havoc in another part of the globe – when nature is at its worst, of course – and our inability to control it until it takes its course while inflicting a significant damage to properties and lives.

- Asian Tribune -

Air Pollution in the UK: Saharan dust takes the smog to an alarming level
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