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Pollutionwatch: Winds from Europe blow stale pollution across to the UK

Pollution in Glasgow

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Pollutionwatch: Winds from Europe blow stale pollution across to the UK” was written by Gary Fuller, for The Guardian on Sunday 11th March 2012 22.30 UTC

Cold air spread eastwards across the UK on 31 January and stayed for the first half of February. Frosty still nights allowed traffic pollution to build up in our cities, spreading out from roads to residential areas. The easterly winds also brought polluted air from continental Europe to add to the mix. Air polluted by small sulphate particles from coal and oil burning arrived from eastern Europe, Poland and parts of Germany on 31 January. Winds later in February brought stale pollution from traffic and gas burning, this time rich in nitrate particles, as winds passed over densely populated areas of Germany, France and the Low Countries.

February’s pollution problems were not confined to the major cities of London, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow but also affected coastal towns and cities including Southend, Eastbourne, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Blackpool and even villages containing major roads such as Storrington, West Sussex.

In addition to problems with particle pollution, moderate nitrogen dioxide was measured by major roads in London on most days in February and there were widespread nitrogen dioxide problems across Greater Manchester on 7 February. Smoke from solid fires added to the pollution cocktail in many towns and cities. This was especially pronounced in Northern Ireland, where the availability of natural gas is poor. In London, pollution from wood burning was clearly detected on the weekend of 12 February.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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