How to Protect Yourself from London's Toxic Smog

Tips from the Breathe Better Together campaign and Asthma UK

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High Air Pollution Warning
Breathe Better Together

Asthma UK

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This week, as Londoners faced being blanketed by dangerous "toxic smog", Mayor of London Boris Johnson tweeted: " London Gov @LDN_gov High air pollution forecast today. Get tips to protect you & your family".

In January, the Mayor launched a major new air quality public awareness campaign called Breathe Better Together, aimed at helping Londoners make small changes to reduce their exposure to pollution and help improve air quality.

The campaign aims to encourage Londoners to sign up to receive free regular email and text alerts about pollution levels, plus offered simple tips and information to minimise exposure. Parents will be encouraged to walk or cycle the school run using less polluted routes, whilst drivers will be asked to switch their engines off when their cars are parked or stationary for a long period of time.

Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, says : "Well done Boris for issuing his first HIGH air pollution warning since launching his Breathe Better Together campaign on 30 January this year.

" This episode, the third of the year so far, is being caused by collapsing wind speeds and a change in wind direction that is bringing in air from the continent that has passed over heavily urbanised and industrialised areas. Easterly winds look set to worsen the problem for West London as it gets smothered in everyone’s air pollution. Air pollution monitors across London are expected to report HIGH particle levels at roadside and perhaps some background locations.

"Official health advice is that anyone experiencing discomfort such as sore eyes, cough or sore throat should consider reducing activity, particularly outdoors. At-risk individuals should take extra care and carry their medication with them today. Relief is expected overnight as wind speeds turn northerly.

"Boris could improve his alert system by issuing warnings before the news cycle rather than after it begins and tweeting them himself to 1.2m followers."

Kay Boycott, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, says: “Two thirds of people with asthma find that air pollution makes their asthma worse, putting them at an increased risk of a potentially fatal asthma attack.

"When air pollution is high it’s vital people with respiratory conditions including asthma check air pollution forecasts, carry their reliever inhaler with them at all times, and ensure that they are taking their preventer inhaler every day because this will help build resilience to asthma triggers like air pollution.

"People with asthma have told us that on days when air pollution levels are high they feel that they can’t even leave the house for fear that it will trigger an attack. If anyone is concerned about how pollution may affect their asthma they can call the Asthma UK Helpline on 0800 121 62 44 or visit"

March 19, 2015

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