RED ALERT Saharan dust cloud engulfing UK could trigger deadly asthma attacks, experts warn

A SAHARAN dust cloud which has blown in across the UK today could trigger deadly asthma attacks, experts have warned.

Most of the country woke up to a hazy red sunrise as the sky was blanketed in a dense wave of dust after a weekend of scorching temperatures.

But while it made for a pretty landscape this morning, the cloud of dirty air could pose a risk to those with asthma as it lingers today.

Experts are urging those with respiratory problems to stay indoors and be aware that the dust cloud could worsen their symptoms, including shortness of breath and wheezing.

Weather conditions such as dust, air pollution, thunderstorms and plunging temperatures can all trigger an attack.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has issued a high air pollution warning for three regions today – London, the South East and Yorkshire & Humberside.

As in other parts of the world, the wind can blow strongly over deserts – whipping up dust and sand high into the sky. If the winds in the upper part of the atmosphere are blowing north, the dust can be carried as far as the UK.Once it is lifted from the ground by strong winds, clouds of dust can reach very high altitudes and be transported worldwide, covering thousands of miles.In order for the dust to get from up in the sky down to the ground, you need something to wash it out of the sky – rain. As raindrops fall, they collect particles of dust on the way down. Then when the raindrops land on something and eventually evaporate, they leave behind a layer of dust.Saharan dust is relatively common in the UK often happening several times a year when big dust storms in the Sahara coincide with southerly wind patterns. In certain weather situations, Saharan dust can also affect air pollution and pollution levels.

Those with lung and heart problems, and older people, in those areas are being warned to reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors.

And anyone experiencing discomfort such as sore eyes, cough or a sore throat, should also consider reducing outdoor activities.

 

Dr Andy Whittamore, clinical lead at Asthma UK, said: “Saharan dust could pose a serious risk to the 5.4million people in the UK with asthma.

“Dust and other types of air pollution are a well-known trigger for people with asthma.