Pollution sees rise in 999 calls

Andover Advertiser: The River Trent in Nottingham is surrounded by smog and haze as record levels of air pollution continue to plague the UK. The River Trent in Nottingham is surrounded by smog and haze as record levels of air pollution continue to plague the UK.

Ambulance services have seen a rise in 999 calls as the UK continues to be gripped by high levels of pollution.

The London Ambulance Service recorded a 14% jump in emergency calls for help with breathing difficulties, asthma and heart problems, while the West Midlands Ambulance Service has also seen more people with breathing and heart trouble.

The capital is currently experiencing "very high" levels of pollution - the highest level recorded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

This morning, the South East also recorded "very high" levels of pollution although this has since dropped to a "high" recording. In total, 19 parts of the UK are currently experiencing high levels of pollution.

A perfect storm of dust from the Sahara, emissions from the continent, low south-easterly winds and domestic pollution has caused air quality to plummet across the UK and the smog-like conditions are not expected to clear until tomorrow.

The London Ambulance Service said it saw a 14% increase in emergency calls for patients with breathing problems yesterday, from an average of 200 normally to 227 calls.

Deputy medical director Fenella Wrigley said: "More people are calling us with breathing difficulties, asthma and heart problems.

"This is a busy time for us and I would urge Londoners to use us only in an emergency, and anyone with a minor condition should call NHS 111 or seek advice from their pharmacist or GP."

West Midlands Ambulance Service, which covers Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, confirmed it had experienced a noticeable spike in call-outs linked to breathing problems and chest pains.

Daily figures for calls reporting breathing or chest problems were largely level at around 460 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday last week.

But the corresponding figures for the first three days of this week were 547, 510 and 501.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust also said there had been a slight increase in 999 calls yesterday.

"Demand on Wednesday was up by 6% in comparison to recent Wednesdays," he said.

"But although we were busy first thing in the morning and then early evening, it is difficult to say the air pollution was a factor as the number of patients with breathing problems and associated sickness was not markedly high.

"It's really important that people with long-term conditions which could be exacerbated by the air quality take extra caution to help prevent their health getting worse."

Prime Minister David Cameron gave up his regular morning jog because of the poor air quality.

He told BBC1's Breakfast: "It is unpleasant, and you can feel it in the air.

"The advice I would give to people is listen very carefully to what the Met Office is saying about the weather. Public Health England's website, you can look at that. Or just go to gov.uk, which is the Government's website, which will give you the latest in terms of medical advice.

"I didn't go for my morning run this morning. I chose to do some work instead.

"You can feel it. But it's a naturally occurring weather phenomenon. It sounds extraordinary, Saharan dust, but that is what it is."

Meanwhile, London mayor Boris Johnson told ITV London he had been cycling around the city and "it seemed perfectly fine".

He said: "I'm urging people just to have a little balance here. I cycled this morning and it seemed perfectly fine to me.

"I think we need to keep a little bit of a sense of proportion. I cycled perfectly happily around today. I understand asthmatics and people who are particularly vulnerable perhaps need to be cautious but there's no reason why people shouldn't go about their daily lives."

Onkar Sahota, health spokesman for the London Assembly Labour group, described the mayor's comments as "dangerously complacent" in the face of increased 999 calls.

An overnight poll of 532 asthmatics for Asthma UK found 30% have suffered an attack as a result of the pollution and 84% reported using their blue reliever inhaler more often than usual.

More than half had avoided going outside and 39% had sought advice about managing their asthma.

Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, said: "We know from previous research that two thirds of people with asthma find that air pollution makes their asthma worse.

"This new data demonstrates that the current high levels of air pollution are having a significant impact on the health and quality of life of people with asthma and that they need to take urgent action to stay safe.

"Asthma can be very serious, it takes the lives of three people every day so we want to do everything we can to help people minimise their risk of a potentially life threatening attack."

Debby Waddell, lead nurse at Asthma UK, added: "We urge all people with asthma to keep a working blue reliever inhaler on them at all times and take their preventer inhalers as prescribed.

"We also suggest that people keep an eye on their symptoms and know what to do in an asthma attack.

"You know you're having an asthma attack if your reliever isn't helping, your symptoms are getting worse (cough, breathlessness, wheeze or tight chest) or you're too breathless or it's difficult to speak, eat or sleep. Children may complain of a tummy ache."

Those with lung and heart conditions have been told to avoid strenuous activity outdoors while people suffering symptoms of pollution - including sore eyes, coughs and sore throats - should cut down the amount they do outside.

Sotiris Vardoulakis, head of air pollution at Public Health England's (PHE) centre for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards, said most people will not be affected by short-term peaks in air pollution, but some groups, such as those with existing heart or lung conditions, may experience increased symptoms.

Anyone experiencing discomfort such as sore eyes, cough or sore throat should consider reducing activity, particularly outdoors, she said.

Across much of England, moderate to high air pollution levels were measured yesterday, with level eight (high) in the South East and Eastern regions and level seven (high) in Greater London.

Some schools in London have banned pupils from outdoor playgrounds to reduce their exposure to the fog.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said it was up to individual schools to decide whether to keep pupils indoors.

Mike McKevitt, head of patient services at the British Lung Foundation, said: "It would be surprising if we didn't see an overall increase in the number of hospital admissions as a result of the pollution, certainly among people with respiratory condition such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)."

But he said calls to the charity's helpline were mainly from people seeking advice.

"Although there was an initial spike in calls to our helpline, these were largely from people seeking advice on how to minimise the impact of the pollution on their lung health, with far fewer calls coming from people actually experiencing symptoms.

"This hopefully suggests that people - especially those with pre-existing lung conditions - are taking appropriate precautions against the impact of the pollution, or managing the symptoms well enough themselves.

"That said, there is often a slight delay between exposure to pollutants and the onset of breathlessness, coughing and wheezing, so it is also possible that the ill effects of the pollution have yet to take hold in many people."

Comments (1)

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10:22pm Mon 5 May 14

Dan Soton says...

Mike McKevitt, head of patient services at the British Lung Foundation, said: it's possible that the ill effects of the pollution have yet to take hold in many people."


Taking a long term view.. in a few years from now I hope to have a phone with an Air Pollution App which will tell me if Southampton's traffic pollution is exceeding EU legal limits if so it will automatically fine all the reasonable parties...

Read on.. The EU is backing ( Doable Project) low cost continuous pollution monitoring via mobile phones..



YOU AND I WILL MONITOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Environmental information about CO2, airborne dust and pollen will no longer be collected only at isolated measuring stations. From now on, cyclists, bus drivers and the man in the street will be able to do their bit.

Twenty portable sensors will be issued to volunteers in the city and to employees such as traffic wardens who are exposed to urban pollution at work.

By Åse Dragland

24 Feb 2014

"AT PRESENT, ENVIRONMENTAL MEASUREMENTS ARE MADE USING EXPENSIVE STATIONS SPREAD AROUND THE COUNTRY. HOWEVER, NOW THAT EVERYBODY HAS A MOBILE PHONE, AND WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY, WE OURSELVES CAN CONTRIBUTE WITH VARIOUS TYPES OF DATA," SAYS ARNE BERRE AT SINTEF ICT.

"More and better information is particularly valuable on days of high pollution or high pollen counts. Making their own measurements will get the general public involved in their own environment. Everybody can now receive useful feedback about the conditions around us.

"TECHNOLOGY WILL BE DEVELOPED BY WAY OF THE EU PROJECTS CITI-SENSE AND CITI-SENSE-MOB. THESE WILL ENABLE ORDINARY PEOPLE TO COLLECT ENVIRONMENTAL DATA. Research scientists from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) and SINTEF are already well under way with the Norwegian contribution."

SENSORS ABOARD BUSES

"We are now having discussions with Oslo Municipality about fitting buses with sensors to measure air quality along the roads. The bus drivers themselves will also find this information useful as they will see how acceleration and driving style affects the results and can learn to drive in a more ecologically friendly way" says Berre.

Magne Elvik, Operations Manager at Nobina Oslo Vest, confirms that sensors will be tested aboard two gas-powered buses at the beginning of April on routes around Grorud, Sinsen and Oslo Central Station, as well as out to Fornebu. If the tests go according to plan, a further eight buses will be included in the experiment.

ON STREETLAMPS AND ELECTRIC BIKES

Last year was mostly dedicated to testing new technology and getting everything to function so that data could be obtained for later use. The actual measurements will take place in the coming months.

Nuria Castell at NILU says that a total of 40 static sensors will be deployed in Oslo. "Air quality is a matter of public concern in Norway, too," she says. "We will fit sensors to streetlamps, for example, to cover city centre areas where pollution is high, and will also monitor neighbourhoods adjacent to Ring Roads 2 and 3, and at Bygdøy.

Twenty portable sensors will be issued to volunteers in the city and to employees such as traffic wardens who are exposed to urban pollution at work. The citizens of Oslo will also be able to measure air quality when cycling, and at least one sensor will be fitted to an electric bike.

"Admittedly there have been some delays," Castell confirms, "But we are starting this spring with two buses, a bicycle and five fixed sensors. By the end of the summer we aim to have full distribution involving more buses, and in the autumn all the fixed sensors will be installed, as well as those carried by people. Measurements will then be carried out in the city throughout 2015."

LAPEL BUTTONS

In December, SINTEF tested hand-held units for collecting weather and wind data as well as a small lapel button (see video) for measuring UV radiation.

"We have now sent the equipment to Bilbao for large-scale testing," says Arne Berre.

This is because around thirty partners in Europe are busy with measurements and tests. Among other things, they will provide both indoor and outdoor measurements of CO2 levels in schools. With such a large amount of data, the EU will be able to make comparisons and obtain a basis for developing joint solutions as well as for sharing technology.

The next step will deal with how to successfully involve people in future by means of user participation and work groups. The plan is to test the technology with selected individuals in 2014 and then make it more generally available during 2015.

See the www.citi-sense.eu and www.citi-sense-mob.e
u websites for further information.

KEY FACTS:

• The EU's Citi-Sense environmental project (2012-2016) will measure the pollution to which individual citizens are exposed. This is achieved using mini-sensors and other electronic equipment to collect environmental data for an online data register. The objective of the project is to improve quality of life in towns and cities. The project attempts to motivate the local population and improve awareness. 27 partner institutions from nine cities in Europe are involved. The project is headed by NILU.

• The EU's Citi-Sense-MOB project will run from 2013 to 2015 and involves installing sensors on mobile platforms (buses and bicycles) to make regular measurements. Each of the four Norwegian partners has its own principal focus – NILU on the quality of sensor data, SINTEF on integration towards global standards and data visualisation, Kjeller Innovation on the use of sensor data in other applications and UNIK on user involvement.

• THE SENSORS ARE MANUFACTURED BY VARIOUS EUROPEAN COMPANIES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, SERBIA AND SPAIN.


http://www.sintef.no
/home/Press-Room/Res
earch-News/You-and-I
-will-monitor-the-en
vironment/



,,,
Mike McKevitt, head of patient services at the British Lung Foundation, said: it's possible that the ill effects of the pollution have yet to take hold in many people." Taking a long term view.. in a few years from now I hope to have a phone with an Air Pollution App which will tell me if Southampton's traffic pollution is exceeding EU legal limits if so it will automatically fine all the reasonable parties... Read on.. The EU is backing ( Doable Project) low cost continuous pollution monitoring via mobile phones.. YOU AND I WILL MONITOR THE ENVIRONMENT Environmental information about CO2, airborne dust and pollen will no longer be collected only at isolated measuring stations. From now on, cyclists, bus drivers and the man in the street will be able to do their bit. Twenty portable sensors will be issued to volunteers in the city and to employees such as traffic wardens who are exposed to urban pollution at work. By Åse Dragland 24 Feb 2014 "AT PRESENT, ENVIRONMENTAL MEASUREMENTS ARE MADE USING EXPENSIVE STATIONS SPREAD AROUND THE COUNTRY. HOWEVER, NOW THAT EVERYBODY HAS A MOBILE PHONE, AND WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY, WE OURSELVES CAN CONTRIBUTE WITH VARIOUS TYPES OF DATA," SAYS ARNE BERRE AT SINTEF ICT. "More and better information is particularly valuable on days of high pollution or high pollen counts. Making their own measurements will get the general public involved in their own environment. Everybody can now receive useful feedback about the conditions around us. "TECHNOLOGY WILL BE DEVELOPED BY WAY OF THE EU PROJECTS CITI-SENSE AND CITI-SENSE-MOB. THESE WILL ENABLE ORDINARY PEOPLE TO COLLECT ENVIRONMENTAL DATA. Research scientists from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) and SINTEF are already well under way with the Norwegian contribution." SENSORS ABOARD BUSES "We are now having discussions with Oslo Municipality about fitting buses with sensors to measure air quality along the roads. The bus drivers themselves will also find this information useful as they will see how acceleration and driving style affects the results and can learn to drive in a more ecologically friendly way" says Berre. Magne Elvik, Operations Manager at Nobina Oslo Vest, confirms that sensors will be tested aboard two gas-powered buses at the beginning of April on routes around Grorud, Sinsen and Oslo Central Station, as well as out to Fornebu. If the tests go according to plan, a further eight buses will be included in the experiment. ON STREETLAMPS AND ELECTRIC BIKES Last year was mostly dedicated to testing new technology and getting everything to function so that data could be obtained for later use. The actual measurements will take place in the coming months. Nuria Castell at NILU says that a total of 40 static sensors will be deployed in Oslo. "Air quality is a matter of public concern in Norway, too," she says. "We will fit sensors to streetlamps, for example, to cover city centre areas where pollution is high, and will also monitor neighbourhoods adjacent to Ring Roads 2 and 3, and at Bygdøy. Twenty portable sensors will be issued to volunteers in the city and to employees such as traffic wardens who are exposed to urban pollution at work. The citizens of Oslo will also be able to measure air quality when cycling, and at least one sensor will be fitted to an electric bike. "Admittedly there have been some delays," Castell confirms, "But we are starting this spring with two buses, a bicycle and five fixed sensors. By the end of the summer we aim to have full distribution involving more buses, and in the autumn all the fixed sensors will be installed, as well as those carried by people. Measurements will then be carried out in the city throughout 2015." LAPEL BUTTONS In December, SINTEF tested hand-held units for collecting weather and wind data as well as a small lapel button (see video) for measuring UV radiation. "We have now sent the equipment to Bilbao for large-scale testing," says Arne Berre. This is because around thirty partners in Europe are busy with measurements and tests. Among other things, they will provide both indoor and outdoor measurements of CO2 levels in schools. With such a large amount of data, the EU will be able to make comparisons and obtain a basis for developing joint solutions as well as for sharing technology. The next step will deal with how to successfully involve people in future by means of user participation and work groups. The plan is to test the technology with selected individuals in 2014 and then make it more generally available during 2015. See the www.citi-sense.eu and www.citi-sense-mob.e u websites for further information. KEY FACTS: • The EU's Citi-Sense environmental project (2012-2016) will measure the pollution to which individual citizens are exposed. This is achieved using mini-sensors and other electronic equipment to collect environmental data for an online data register. The objective of the project is to improve quality of life in towns and cities. The project attempts to motivate the local population and improve awareness. 27 partner institutions from nine cities in Europe are involved. The project is headed by NILU. • The EU's Citi-Sense-MOB project will run from 2013 to 2015 and involves installing sensors on mobile platforms (buses and bicycles) to make regular measurements. Each of the four Norwegian partners has its own principal focus – NILU on the quality of sensor data, SINTEF on integration towards global standards and data visualisation, Kjeller Innovation on the use of sensor data in other applications and UNIK on user involvement. • THE SENSORS ARE MANUFACTURED BY VARIOUS EUROPEAN COMPANIES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, SERBIA AND SPAIN. http://www.sintef.no /home/Press-Room/Res earch-News/You-and-I -will-monitor-the-en vironment/ ,,, Dan Soton
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