A “very high” air pollution alert has been issued by the Mayor of London for the first time.
Warnings are being issued at bus stops, roadside signs and Tube stations under a new alert system set up by Sadiq Khan.
The rise has been attributed to cold, calm and settled weather, meaning winds are not dispersing local pollutants.
The mayor said “the shameful state of London’s toxic air” meant he had to trigger the alert.
“This is the highest level of alert and everyone – from the most vulnerable to the physically fit – may need to take precautions to protect themselves from the filthy air,” he said.
Current pollution levels for PM10 concentrations are at 101 micrograms – more than double the legal limit.
The air quality index numbers run from one (lowest) to 10 (highest). The current levels have been rated as 10.
Notices will be displayed at bus stops, river pier stops, Tube stations and on signs on London’s busiest roads.
Susan Boix, from Erith, South London
While walking the dogs today I felt so sick from the pollution and now have a sore throat.
It was so bad I felt like I was in an enclosed space with a car engine running.
I had to pull my sweatshirt up to cover my mouth and nose. I’ve never experienced it like that before.
Now and again it’s bad but not like today. You could taste the pollution.
In recent weeks several “high” alerts have been issued, but the current weather conditions coupled with an “unusually high amount of domestic wood burning” has led to the highest pollution alert being issued.
The mayor’s office said episodes of pollution with high concentrations occurred a few times per year in London, but very high pollution instances were rare.
The government’s committee on the medical effects of air pollutants (COMEAP) advises adults and children with lung problems, adults with heart problems and older people, to avoid strenuous physical activity.
People with asthma may find they need to use their inhaler more often.