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Pollutionwatch: UK experienced top levels of air pollution in March

Air Pollution in London, UK

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Pollutionwatch: UK experienced top levels of air pollution in March” was written by Gary Fuller, for The Guardian on Sunday 8th April 2012 21.30 UTC

Air pollution during March reached the top level of the government’s new air pollution index. For most of the month, high pressure systems caused air to slowly re-circulate over the UK and near continent. Without rain to wash it out, particle air pollution gradually built up as the air slowly passed over cities and industrial areas, causing all the UK to experience particle pollution problems.

London was the first to measure very high or index level 10 air pollution. Air reaching London on 15 March had been over northern England four days earlier. It drifted over the densely populated and industrial areas of the Netherlands, Belgium and northern France before returning to the UK. Combined with traffic pollution from London, fine particles reached the greatest levels measured since new instrumentation was installed in 2008.

The focus of the pollution problems moved northwards later in the month. Very high air pollution was measured in Manchester, Stoke, Preston, Blackpool, Warrington and Wigan in the north-west of England and Leeds, Sheffield and Stockton in the north-east. The worst polluted air then moved into Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The winds in March brought our own air pollution back to us demonstrating how our cities contribute to poor air pollution in areas over hundreds of kilometres away. Tackling local air pollution can improve the health of people who live near busy roads and decrease the impacts of each city on the wider region.

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

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