A moderate air pollution episode is expected to hit most parts of Scotland tomorrow (Wednesday), according to a leading environmental campaign charity.
Friends of the Earth Scotland has warned that air safety standards are forecasted to be broken in 31 council areas across the country on July 1.
This will be the third air pollution episode of the year with others having already occurred in April and March.
Air pollution is measured on a 1-10 scale - 1-3 is low, 4-6 is moderate (over legal limits), 7-9 is high and 10 is very high.
Tomorrow every Scottish council area is forecasted to breach safety standards with air pollution falling into the moderate category, except for one council area - Eilean Siar in the Outer Hebrides.
Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The official health advice for the expected levels of air pollution is for people with heart and lung problems such as asthma or emphysema, who experience symptoms, to consider reducing strenuous physical activity, particularly outdoors.”
Emilia warned that while people with existing respiratory problems are at increased risk tomorrow, the public’s health is damaged by air pollution every day and not just on days when pollution is high.
She explained: “Regular exposure to the levels of pollution that we see day in, day out on city streets in Scotland increases the risk of people having a heart attack or stroke.
“Most disturbingly, air pollution impacts on foetal development, with newborn babies more likely to have lower birth weights if expectant mothers are exposed to air pollution throughout pregnancy. Air pollution causes 2000 early deaths every year in Scotland.”
Ground-level ozone is understood to be the key pollutant of concern during this episode, with levels predicted to break World Health Organisation safety guidelines.
Ozone is considered to be among the most irritating gases to humans, and exposure to high levels can cause respiratory symptoms, reduce lung function, and cause inflammation of the airways.
Emilia continued: “Some of this air pollution will have blown in from elsewhere but it is adding to the heavy air pollution caused by traffic on our streets.
“To combat the worst of tomorrow’s air pollution impacts, the Government should advise people to avoid driving. But it must also introduce longer term measures to reduce traffic levels on our streets.
“The Government recently announced that it would work with a local authority to develop a Low Emission Zone. This is a welcome step, but we need to see this plan in action, and fast.”
She added: “Tackling air pollution will save lives and reduce costs to the NHS, in addition to helping Scotland meet its climate change emission targets.”
See the latest air pollution forecast at Scottish air quality