Govt issues warning for outdoor exercise as pollution alert issued in London

14 January 2022, 11:59 | Updated: 14 January 2022, 12:04

London's air pollution is expected to be especially bad on Friday
London's air pollution is expected to be especially bad on Friday. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

The Government has issued a warning for Londoners wanting to exercise outside on Friday after a high pollution alert was sent out.

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According to the Defra website, parts of London are set to see air pollution valued at eight out of 10 - "high".

"Air pollution levels are generally expected to be Low today," reads the warning on the website.

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"However, areas of Moderate to High pollution are possible near urban areas and busy roads in the south of the UK, in particular London.

"This is due to light winds allowing the build-up of locally emitted pollutants."

Central London is expected to be especially bad - although it is not as bad as it was first forecast to be, with a reading of 10/10 forecasted for Friday on Thursday night.

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Even though the warning has been downgraded to eight, the Government is still advising people to alter their behaviour to minimise the risk to their health.

"Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors, and particularly if they experience symptoms," states the guidance for high pollution levels, which is for ratings between seven and nine.

"People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often. Older people should also reduce physical exertion."

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There is no need for people without underlying health conditions to limit their exercise unless they start to suffer adverse affects, with the advice reading: "Anyone experiencing discomfort such as sore eyes, cough or sore throat should consider reducing activity, particularly outdoors."

Weather conditions mean air pollution is expected to return to its normal low levels over the weekend, with Defra's forecast reading: "On Saturday air pollution levels are forecast to widely become Low again as slightly increased wind speeds allow pollutants to disperse."

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Only three days ago the mayor of London Sadiq Khan issued a stark warning about the impact congestion in the capital could have on its air quality.

He acknowledged the progress made but called for a focus on "greener means of travel".

"Whilst we have made huge strides in increasing walking and cycling in London throughout the pandemic, car use has remained consistently high," said Mr Khan, after figures showed car use had recovered to almost pre-pandemic levels despite the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

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"If we do not double down on our efforts to deliver a greener, more sustainable future, we will replace one public health crisis with another - caused by filthy air and gridlocked roads.

"The cost to both Londoners and the capital (should not) be underestimated, with days wasted stuck in traffic, billions lost to the economy and increased road danger and health impacts.

"Most traffic is caused simply by there being too great a demand for limited street space, meaning the only long-term solution can be to significantly reduce car use in favour of greener means of travel."