Sheffield could be hit by high levels of air pollution more often in future - brought about by toxic fumes mixing with desert dust blown on the wind, a city geography expert has warned.
Figures from the Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs showed the level of air pollution recorded at Devonshire Green in the city centre was unusually high again yesterday.
Monitoring equipment used to monitor pollution gave a reading of six on a scale of 10, when the figure is normally between two and three.
Dr Robert Bryant, from Sheffield University’s geography department, said: “These events are probably going to be much worse in future - when we get bad air quality it’s going to be atrocious.
“We could do more to regulate the air quality in our cities, particularly in terms of traffic, which has increased enormously in Sheffield over the last 10 years.
“There’s no doubt that we’re going to have to be very careful.”
Conditions were made worse yesterday by foggy weather, which is expected to clear today.
“Fog is stagnant air, so any local pollution does not get blown away,” said Dr Bryant.
Dust storms are increasing in frequency in some parts of Africa, caused by ‘unsustainable agriculture’ and climate change.
“The dust that has blown over from the Sahara and caused this mist of toxic air has been mixed with other pollutants from Europe en route to the UK,” he added.
Dr Bryant also said claims pollution was creating a ‘killer fog’ were not an exaggeration.
“I don’t think it’s scaremongering.
“It’s really not very good for people’s health.
“Some people are really going to suffer.
“The last few days has raised awareness that it’s quite a pernicious problem.”