HEATWAVE WARNING: Experts issue GREY FEVER ALERT as temperatures set to SOAR

People with asthma and other breathing conditions are urged to take extra care through the coming days as filthy air smothers Britain. Rising temperatures will spur trees to spew out clouds of irritant pollen as a cloud of traffic smog and factory fumes blows in from the Continent. The combination of airborne toxins and allergens threatens to trigger so-called ‘grey fever’ in millions of summer allergy sufferers.

The condition is brought on when pollen and pollution levels rise at the same time creating a deadly cocktail of irritants.

Pollution attaches to pollen forming supercharged allergy particles which are more likely to affect people living in built-up areas.

Sonia Munde, head of services at Asthma UK, said: “A deadly pollen bomb is due to hit this week, putting people with asthma at risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.

“Around 3.3 million people with asthma are affected pollen, which can cause symptoms such as wheezing, a tight chest or coughing.

“Trees have been releasing their pollen for several weeks, but the warm spring weather is going to make these pollen levels spike.

“If you’re already getting symptoms, it’s not too late to help yourself stay well, take your prescribed preventer medicine to soothe your irritated airways so you’re less likely to react to the pollen trigger.

“Take hay fever medicines such as antihistamines as they stop the allergic reaction that triggers asthma symptoms and keep itchy eyes and runny noses at bay.”

Pollen counts will rocket through the next couple of days reaching ‘high’ across southern, central and parts of northern Britain by the middle of the week, according to Met Office forecasts.

A deadly pollen bomb is due to hit this week, putting people with asthma at risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack

Hot weather warning

High pollen levels are predicted to remain across much of the country during the run up to the weekend.

Separate government air-quality forecasts show moderate levels of pollution building across southern, western and parts of eastern Britain on Wednesday.

While this is likely to clear in parts by the Easter weekend,  pockets of dirty air will persist into Good Friday, according to Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

A spokesman said: “Areas of Moderate air pollution may affect some regions of central and southern England and parts of Wales during Wednesday and Thursday.

“On Friday isolated pockets of Moderate air pollution may affect some coastal areas.”

European air-monitoring service Prev’Air predicts minute PM2.5 particles will largely contribute to the smoggy conditions expected through the middle of this week.

PM2.5 and PM10, which is also forecast to spill into Britain from Europe, are tiny particles of soot and metal swept into the air from vehicles and factories.

As Britain’s weather turns warmer and sunnier, levels of home-grown ozone, which can worsen breathing in some people, will also rise.

Ozone levels in parts of the country including Scotland and southwest England could nudge 120 micrograms per metre cubed this week, according to Prev’Air charts.

Anything above 100 micrograms – reduced from 120 in 2005 – is classed by The World Health Organisation (WHO) as cause for concern.

A spokesman said: “Excessive ozone in the air can have a marked effect on human health.

“It can cause breathing problems, trigger asthma, reduce lung function and cause lung diseases.

“In Europe it is currently one of the air pollutants of most concern.”

A spokesman for the European Environment Agency added: “As ozone is a powerful oxidant it can react with a wide range of cellular components and biological materials, and may affect tissues of the respiratory tract or lung.

“Symptoms including cough, throat irritation, chest tightness have been reported at the same range of exposures as those affecting pulmonary function.

“Studies indicate that the rates of asthma attacks and medication usage increase on days with higher ozone concentrations.”

Allergen experts warn pollen and pollution work together to worsen symptoms in people with hay fever and breathing conditions.

Max Wiseberg, airborne allergens expert and founder of HayMax barrier balms, said people should take extra care through the next few days.

He said: “Once again we are looking at a situation where warm weather is likely to trigger a pollen bomb explosion this week bringing very high counts in parts of the country.

“We are also looking at rising pollution levels, together this can form a lethal combination for people who suffer from seasonal allergies.

“The combination of pollen and pollution exacerbate symptoms in many people, these can include runny eyes and noses or breathing difficulties.

“Advice is to take antihistamines and use nasal barrier balms to prevent symptoms before they start.”

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