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WARM WEATHER LEADS TO 'SUMMER SMOG'

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The first summer smog of this year has been caused by the warm, sunny ...
The first summer smog of this year has been caused by the warm, sunny

weather over south east England this week.

High ozone levels are forecast today for London, the south-east, and

East Anglia. These levels are likely to persist for today only. They

will decline tomorrow, but over the weekend and early next week

expected high temperatures and light easterly winds may bring the

risk of high pollution again.

Some people are more sensitive to ozone than others and may begin to

notice an effect on their breathing. People with asthma are not

necessarily more sensitive but, if affected, can use their 'reliever'

inhaler. The public are being urged to take sensible precautions:

* Avoiding exercise outdoors in the afternoon can reduce exposure to

ozone.

* Avoiding making unnecessary short car journeys wherever possible,

by walking, cycling or making use of public transport instead.

Regular updates on levels of particulate matter (PM10), sulphur

dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide are available

on: TELETEXT (page 156), the Internet www.airquality.co.uk (Air

Quality Information Archive) and the Department's freephone helpline

(0800 556677), which also offers health advice to those who may be

particularly sensitive to air pollution.

Notes

Ground level ozone is formed when sunlight acts on nitrogen dioxide

and other atmospheric substances close to the ground. The pollutants

that cause ground level ozone come from a range of sources, including

petrol and other fuels.

Health Advice

The following advice on health applies when air pollution is 'high'

or 'very high'

'During episodes of air pollution experienced during the summer in

the United Kingdom, levels of ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particles

may be raised. Most people will experience no ill effects. Those

suffering from lung diseases (including asthma), particularly if

elderly, should be aware that their symptoms might worsen. They may

need to consider modifying their treatment as they usually do when

symptoms increase, consulting their doctor if this is not effective.

People who have noticed in the past that their breathing is affected

on hot, sunny days should avoid strenuous outdoor activity,

particularly in the afternoon. Children with asthma should be able to

take part in games in the usual way, although they may need to

increase their use of reliever medicines before participating. There

is no need for them to stay away from school.

Those suffering from a heart condition and who notice a change in

their symptoms should get medical advice as they normally would.'

Health advice is also available on TELETEXT (Page 156).

Action individuals can take to reduce pollution.

Road vehicles are a major source of many pollutants in urban areas.

Before using your car ask yourself - do I really need to make this

journey? Do I really need to use the car, or could I walk or cycle?

If you must drive, switch off the engine if you expect to be

stationary for more than a couple of minutes, and drive smoothly - it

will save you fuel and money and you will emit less pollution. Avoid

overfilling the petrol tank and spilling petrol - this evaporates and

releases hydrocarbons that are toxic and form ozone.

Buy water-based or low-solvent paints, glues, varnishes, and wood

preservatives wherever you can.

Avoid burning solid fuels if you can.

STEP FORWARD FOR CUTS IN GLOBAL WARMING EMISSIONS AS UK JOINS METHANE TO MARKETS PARTNERSHIP

To help the fight against global warming, the UK today joined a

US-led partnership that seeks to cut global methane gas emissions.

The Methane to Markets Partnership, launched in Washington yesterday

(Wed), aims to promote methane recovery and use as a clean energy

source to foster sustainable economic growth.

It will focus, through sector working groups, on schemes such as

landfill gas to energy projects, methane recovery at underground coal

mines and improvements in natural gas system operations. It aims to

reduce net methane emissions by up to 50 million metric tons of

carbon equivalent by 2015.

Environment minister Elliot Morley welcomed the US proposal, saying

it was a valuable initiative in the global campaign to reduce

greenhouse gases, while stressing that tackling carbon dioxide (CO2)

emissions remained the single largest challenge in combating climate

change. Carbon dioxide emissions in the UK in 2002 were 12 times

higher than methane emissions.

'Methane is one of the six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto

Protocol and is second only in importance to CO2 as a contributor to

global warming.

We are happy to join others in an international partnership,

comparable to the international partnerships on hydrogen and carbon

sequestration, which both involve the US and the UK. We will continue

to use every opportunity to cut greenhouse gases and help with UK and

international emissions reduction targets.'

Mr Morley said the UK had an excellent record on lowering methane

emissions. Latest figures show that the UK has reduced its methane

emissions by 43 per cent over the last 12 years. This is primarily

due to cuts in emissions from the disposal of solid waste on land and

from coal mines.

'We look forward to contributing our experience to the partnership,

as well as learning from it.

Cooperation in multilateral partnerships is a good way to help

countries find effective ways of reducing emissions. Such

partnerships are a valuable complement to international action

through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,

which is the main forum for tackling climate change globally.'

Notes

1. The US is committing $53m over five yeas to the Methane to Markets

Partnership. Countries that have agreed to support the initiative are

India, Australia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Japan, Mexico and Italy.

2. Emissions of methane decreased by 9 mega tonnes of carbon

equivalent (43 per cent) between 1990 and 2002 (Source: UK Greenhouse

Gas Inventory 1990-2002). There were falls in all sources - landfill,

underground mines, agriculture, oil production, post-mining activity,

leakage from gas transmission/distribution system, oil exploration,

road transportation and residential).

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