UK weather warning: Dust storm could have significant health impact on millions of Britons

E.ON – Air Heroes: Children fight air pollution with cape

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While this may sound innocuous, for some it could be dangerous.

Studies have shown that dust storms, such as the one now hovering over the UK, can have a significant impact on the health of millions.

Dust storms are made up of thousands of particles that include allergens and pollutants.

These allergens and pollutants can leave those with respiratory conditions particularly vulnerable during this time.

Asthma UK has warned that extreme weather events, such as this storm, are a significant danger for the 5.4million asthmas sufferers currently residing in the UK.

For the unlucky few, the combination of the dust and other pollutants could cause a fatal asthma attack.

Listing reasons for why this could occur, the charity explained: “The air before a storm can feel very humid and close. Some tell us this gives them a tight chest and a cough, and that they find it harder to breathe.

“During pollen season, the windy conditions during a thunderstorm blow lots of pollen high into the air. The moisture, higher up in the air, breaks them up into much smaller pieces. As these smaller pieces of pollen particles settle back down, they can be breathed in, irritating the smaller airways of the lungs.”

It’s not just asthma sufferers who are affected by high levels of pollution.

A new study has found air pollution could lead to a higher risk of autoimmune disease.

Researchers from the University of Verona have found long-term exposure to high levels of air pollution results in a 40 percent increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis and a 20 percent increase in the risk of developing Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Furthermore, there was a 15 percent increase in the risk of developing connective tissue diseases.

Published in the RMD Open journal, the study covered a four-year period between June 2016 and November 2020.

Overall, the study concluded that long-term exposure to air pollution led to an increase in the chances of people developing autoimmune disease.

In response to the study, Director of the Centre for Inflammation Research and Translational Medicine at Brunel University said: “This study further supports the mounting evidence suggesting a link between air pollution exposure and immune-mediated diseases.

“Whether air pollution exposure specifically causes autoimmune diseases remains controversial, although there is no doubt that there is a link.”

Air pollution has become an increasingly important topic in recent years, not only due to the climate crisis but also due to more localised tragedies.

Last year, it was found air pollution caused the death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah.

She was the first person for whom air pollution was listed as the cause of death.

Today the government announced the legal limit on air pollution will be halved by 2040.

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