A dangerous air pollution episode is expected to hit many parts of Scotland today (28/5/16), peaking on Sunday 29th, with the West of Scotland still affected on Monday and Tuesday. Air masses from Northern continental Europe are expected to bring increased levels of particulate matter through the UK and Scotland. In addition, ground level Ozone is expected to form in rural parts of Scotland. World Health Organisation and Scottish Regulatory safety standards are expected to be broken in over twenty Council areas.

Emilia Hanna, Air Pollution Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland said,

“There is a widespread forecast of pollution across Scotland which, if it materialises, will see air masses coming in from northern continental Europe combining with toxic fumes from our own car and lorry exhausts, leading to increased levels of air pollution. The still weather conditions this weekend will mean that the air pollution may build up, leaving people people with lung or heart problems potentially susceptible.

Hanna continued,

“People with existing lung or heart conditions are the most at risk from air pollution episodes. If the forecast becomes a reality, adults and children with lung and heart problems, who experience symptoms, should consider limiting strenuous physical activity, especially outdoors.

“The Scottish Government continues to break clean air health standards 6 years after a legal deadline. It is welcome news that the SNP has promised the public a low emission zone by 2018 to tackle urban air pollution, but much more needs to be done. New Transport Minister Humza Yousaf must deliver a new direction for transport which moves us away from a ‘car is king’ approach to one where the government makes it easier for us to walk, cycle, and use public transport. This is the step change we need to see if the Government is to get serious about tackling air pollution, a public health crisis which is claiming over 2,500 lives in Scotland each year.”

The following screenshots are of the air pollution forecast, taken at 12:07pm on Friday 27th May:



For media enquiries, please contact:

Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland:

t: 0131 243 2715

e: ehanna@foe-scotland.org.uk

Notes to editors:

1. The air pollution forecast has been taken from the Scottish Government’s official air quality monitoring website: www.scottishairquality.co.uk/latest/forecast-summary. Pictures of the forecast are available through our web address: For live readings, see www.scottishairquality.co.uk/latest/

According to the forecast viewed at 12:07 p.m. Friday 27 May, World Health Organisation air pollution safety standards are expected to be broken as follows:

On Saturday 28th May: Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, Eilean Siar, Fife, Highland, Inverclyde, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire (with a “Moderate” level, meaning that at-risk individuals may experience symptoms but the general population may not.)

On Sunday 29th May: Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Eilean Siar, Falkirk, Glasgow City, Highland, Inverclyde, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire.

2. For official government health advice about air pollution levels: www.scottishairquality.co.uk/air-quality/daqi

3. The key pollutants causing this episode are expected to be ground level Ozone and Particulate Matter.

Ozone: It is important to distinguish between stratospheric ozone and ground level ozone.  Stratospheric ozone, known as the Earth’s “ozone layer” plays a crucially important role in making the planet habitable by absorbing harmful solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation. By contrast, ozone at ground level is toxic to humans and been linked with respiratory illness. It occurs when chemicals produced through fossil fuel combustion react together under the action of sunlight. Ironically, ground level Ozone is often highest in rural areas, away from urban centres where the chemicals leading to ground level Ozone have been emitted.

Particulate Matter: Often in the form of soot from diesel and petrol engines, you can see Particulate Matter (PM) as a dark, dirty coating on surfaces in towns. Any concentration has a negative effect on health. PM is classified and regulated according to different aerodynamic diametres in Scotland: PM10, and PM2.5.

Long-term exposure to PM2.5 has been shown to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and increases the risk of mothers giving birth to low birthweight babies: “Long term exposure to ambient air pollution and incidence of acute coronary events: prospective cohort study and meta-analysis in 11 European cohorts from the ESCAPE Project” British Medical Journal, http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.f7412, and “Ambient air pollution and low birthweight: a European cohort study (ESCAPE)” The Lancet, http://thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(13)70192-9/abstract 

4. The Scottish Budget 2016/17 spends twenty times as much on building new motorways and trunk roads as is allocated to walking and cycling. http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/budget-reaction-2016

5. Transport Scotland statistics show that in 2014 Scots drove a record number of kilometres, and there were more cars on the roads than ever before. Overall public transport usage rates are at the same level as a decade ago and bus patronage has actually fallen 10% in the last 5 years. http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/transport-stats-feb16. 

6. Air Pollution Photos for press use are available on our Flickr account. They show people on a morning commute wearing gas masks and struggling to breathe against a backdrop of a gigantic gas mask banner on Nicolson Street, Edinburgh. https://www.flickr.com/photos/friendsoftheearthscotland/albums/72157657667112136

7. FoES has recently launched the ‘Fossil Free Scotland’ campaign which aims to secure a just transition to a 100% renewable, nuclear-free, zero-fossil-fuel Scotland www.fossilfree.scot

8. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:

* Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation

* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland

* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.