High air pollution forecast

Date published: 29 November 2020

High (pollution index 8) levels of air pollution are being forecast for particulate matter across Northern Ireland and are expected to persist throughout the evening and into tomorrow.

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During periods of High Pollution the symptoms of people with lung or heart disease may worsen. Healthy people are unlikely to experience any ill effects.

Hourly updates on levels of particulate matter (PM10), sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide are available on the Department’s website: http://www.airqualityni.co.uk and the Department’s freephone helpline (0800 556677), which also offers health advice to those who may be particularly sensitive to air pollution.

Notes to editors: 

High air pollution forecast for Northern Ireland

1.            Air pollution is described as “low (1-3)”, “moderate (4-6)”, “high (7-9)” or “Very High (10)” in relation to the presence of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone.                                     Classifications are based upon the pollutant in the highest band based upon the advice of the independent Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution.

2.            In addition to the sources of air quality information described in the press release, the information and the air pollution forecast is also sent by e-mail, free of charge, every day to a variety of outlets including                           regional and national newspapers, television and radio stations, environmental groups, district councils, and international organisations. If you would like to be added to this individual service, ring the                                     Government's contractors at AEA (Paul Willis on 0870 1906602).

3.            The Department of the Environment urges Editors to give this information prominence, particularly when air pollution episodes occur or are predicted.

Health Advice

4.            The Following advice on health applies when air pollution is “high” or “very high”

5.            During episodes of air pollution experienced during the summer in the United Kingdom, levels of ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particles may be raised. Most people will experience no ill effects. Those suffering                         from lung diseases (including asthma) particularly if elderly should be aware that their symptoms might worsen. They may need to consider modifying their treatment as they usually do when symptoms increase,                   consulting their doctors as necessary if this is not effective.

6.            People who have noticed in the past that their breathing is affected on hot, sunny days should avoid strenuous outdoor activity, particularly in the afternoon. Children with asthma should be able to take part in                         games in the usual way, although they may need to increase their use of reliever medicines before participating. There is no need for them to stay away from school.

7.            Those suffering from a heart condition and who notice a change in their symptoms should get medical advice as they normally would.

Presentation of the information

8.            When air pollution levels are presented to the public, an overall summary is provided followed by pollutant specific information. When the overall summary is presented for each region, levels of air pollution are                     described as those occurring in the highest band for any individual pollutant. For example, if levels of all pollutants in a region were low, with the exception of one pollutant that was high, then in the overall                             summary the air pollution for that region would be described as "high".

Action individuals can take to reduce pollution

9.            Road vehicles are a major source of many pollutants in urban areas.  Before using your car ask yourself - do I really need to make this journey? Do I really need to use the car, or could I walk or cycle?

10.          If you must drive, switch off the engine if you expect to be stationary for more than a couple of minutes, and drive smoothly - it will save you fuel and money and you will emit less pollution. Avoid overfilling the                       petrol tank and spilling petrol - this evaporates and releases hydrocarbons that are toxic and form ozone.

11.          Buy water-based or low-solvent paints, glues, varnishes, and wood preservatives wherever you can.

12.          We can all contribute to reducing the current high levels by avoiding burning solid fuels if possible, by burning only smokeless fuels in smoke control areas. It is also important to avoid lighting bonfires while                           pollution levels are high.

13.          Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook: https://twitter.com/daera_ni and www.facebook.com/daerani.gov.uk.

14.          All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office at: pressoffice.group@daera-ni.gov.uk. ​​​

15.          The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be                           contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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