PEOPLE in Oxfordshire are being warned this morning there is expected to be high levels of air pollution because of dust from the Sahara desert, and pollution from Europe adding to Britain's emissions.

Oxfordshire is at level eight on the pollution scale, with 10 being the very highest, but by tomorrow the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said levels should begin to drop to a moderate level.

There are three factors: light winds means Britain's own pollution is settling in the air, pollution from neighbouring European countries has also been blown over from the continent and storm winds have brought dust up from the Sahara.

People with pre-exisiting medical conditions, particularly respiratory complaints, are being advised to be aware of the poorer air quality, although Oxfordshire is not forecast to be as bad as other areas of the country.

Over the weekend, many people found cars covered in dust.

The Met Office said that a large amount of sand and dust was swept up by storm winds in the Sahara Desert.

Experts said that the airborne particles of dust were blown north to the UK where they combined with our warm air and were deposited during showers.

A Defra spokeswoman said: "The high level of air pollution this week is due to a combination of local emissions, light winds, pollution from the continent and dust blown over from the Sahara.

"We want to keep improving air quality and have introduced a new five-day forecast service in addition to investing heavily in local and transport initiatives to tackle this issue head-on."

The worst-affected areas of the country include Norfolk and the Midlands.

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