Oldham air pollution set to be worse than yesterday with another alert

Vulnerable Oldham residents have again been warned to limit outdoor activity today – with air pollution levels forecast to be worse than yesterday.

Concentrations of particulate matter and ozone are expected to be higher than recommended.

PM2.5 particulate matter is forecast to reach levels around 3 times higher than World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Previous research has also suggested that those inside cars are exposed to a greater concentration of air pollution than those outside them, such as pedestrians.

Air pollution in Oldham and the rest of Greater Manchester is forecast to be 5, or ‘moderate’, on the daily air quality index – with PM2.5 particulate matter levels set for an average concentration of 42 to 47 micrograms per cubic metre. Yesterday saw forecasts of level 4 on the scale.

Yesterday, air pollution in Oldham was set to be 4 on the scale – though a live air pollution monitoring station on Crompton Way, Shaw showed that pollution was worse than forecast, reaching level 5.

Advice from the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) states: “Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, who experience symptoms, should consider reducing strenuous physical activity, particularly outdoors.”

However, the general population are advised they can continue to enjoy their usual outdoor activities.

PM2.5 particles are smaller than the width of a human hair and are too small to be seen with the naked eye – but can appear as a haze or smog on days of high air pollution.

Clean Air Greater Manchester say air pollution contributes to at least 1,200 early deaths in Greater Manchester each year, with an estimated £5.3 billion health and social care cost by 2035.

Concentrations of ozone, which can lead to asthma attacks and inflammation, are also expected to be increased, measuring 4 on the scale in much of Oldham, though a lower concentration than yesterday is expected in some areas.

Particulate matter is caused by several human sources – such as wood-burning, vehicle tyre and brake wear, and burning fossil fuels.

A small proportion of particulate matter is also caused by natural sources, such as pollen and sea spray.

Exposure to particulate matter can lead to death and illness, such as coronary heart disease.

The WHO says the concentration for these particulates should not exceed an average of 15 micrograms per cubic metre in a 24-hour period.

Greater Manchester is set for another day of air pollution – with levels expected to be higher than yesterday.

Research from Imperial College London found a reduction in the level of this pollution would mean children across the UK would suffer an average of 388,000 fewer days of asthma symptoms a year, there would be 3,000 fewer cases of coronary heart disease and it would add nine to 10 weeks onto average life expectancy for those born in 2018 – along with billions of pounds in economic benefits.

A public consultation was recently announced after the delay of Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone – with £186,000 spent on stickers to cover up out-of-date signs.

A spokesperson for walking and cycling organisation Walk Ride Greater Manchester said: “Manchester is one of the most congested cities in the UK, even though nearly a 1/2 of households in Manchester don’t even have access to a car or van.

“High volumes of traffic involving predominantly petrol and diesel vehicles are a huge contributor to air pollution.

“With levels in GM currently exceeding the new World Health Organization guidelines for air pollutants, we would urge our councils to do everything they can to encourage people to ditch the car and choose active travel.”

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