Warning for people with breathing difficulties as pollution levels go through the roof in some areas
Freak weather combined with toxic fumes from cars and industry are causing dangerous levels of pollution across Scotland.
Warnings have been issued after several Scottish cities and towns experienced “high pollution episodes” up to four times acceptable limits - leaving asthmatics particularly vulnerable to attacks.
Mild weather with little wind means pollution is hanging in the air and not being dispersed.
Since Tuesday morning (17 March), Aberdeen has been experiencing pollution levels above the daily limit, with levels over four times the limit in Aberdeen’s Market Street.
Levels of elevated pollution have now spread to Dundee, Perth, parts of West Lothian, Falkirk and Rutherglen and are forecast to continue to be high across the central belt today (18 March).
The general advice from the Scottish Government to the public when air pollution is high is to “reduce physical exertion, particularly outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as cough or sore throat”.
My advice to asthmatics in the worst affected areas would be to take care and stay indoors
Adults and children with lung problems, adults with heart problems, and older people are advised to avoid strenuous physical activity.
People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often.
Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "Pollution from road traffic is the key cause of this current air pollution episode. During an episode like this, asthmatics are more prone to an attack and we may see an increase in hospital admissions for respiratory conditions and heart attacks. This type of pollution kills more than 2,000 people every year in Scotland.
"In France, urgent action has been taken, with free public transport announced for everyone in Paris to discourage car use. The Scottish Government needs to look at similar action to protect people's health here.
"Some of this air pollution has blown in from Western Europe, but it has added to our existing air pollution from road traffic. This current episode is a strong reminder that the Government needs to do much more to tackle Scotland's ongoing air pollution problem.
The Scottish Government is currently consulting on a low emission strategy to tackle air pollution. While the strategy is a step in the right direction, camapigners say it lacks vision and clarity with high pollution episodes likely to continue.
Mic Starbuck, 65, from Glasgow who has asthma, experienced an episode of air pollution five years ago, causing an acute and prolonged attack of breathlessness which landed him in hospital for three days.
He said: “Although Glasgow is not currently the worst affected area in Scotland, I am already noticing increased tightness in my chest and I am having to use my inhaler much more. I do not want to end up in hospital again.
“My advice to asthmatics in the worst affected areas would be to take care and stay indoors.
“So far, while in Paris action has been taken, in Scotland there has been no response by the government.”