High levels of air pollution

Friday, 25 November 2016 – Health Protection
High levels of air pollution

High levels of air pollution are being monitored in Belfast and Derry, with people advised to take extra care if they have a respiratory illness.

While most people will not be affected by short term peaks in air pollution, some people - particularly vulnerable groups such as those with existing heart or lung conditions - may experience increased symptoms.

If you think you may be affected by air pollution levels, you should consider modifying your treatment as you usually do when symptoms increase and, consult your doctor if this is not effective.

You may also wish to reduce the time you spend outdoors or avoid busy, congested streets.

If you have noticed in the past that your breathing is affected during cold, calm conditions or on hot, sunny days, you should avoid strenuous outdoor activity on those days and ensure that you have access to your usual medication, such as asthma inhalers.

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.

If you suffer from a heart condition and notice a change in your symptoms, you should seek medical advice as you normally would.

Air pollution alerts text service

You can receive high air pollution alerts free to your mobile phone to let you know when air pollution levels are high. Subscribe to the 'Air Aware' service by texting AIR to 67300 to receive these alerts.

Text messages to the service will be charged at your normal standard rate and alerts are received free of charge.

Air quality measurement and forecasts

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. The classifications were chosen on the basis of effects on health and are based on medical and scientific research.

Checking air quality in your area

You can find out more about current levels of air pollution and about air pollution, its causes and effects from the page below:

You can also listen to the latest air pollution information by dialling a freephone helpline on:

  • telephone: 0800 556677