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Health Advice

Public Health Wales is an NHS organisation that provides professionally independent public health information, advice and support services to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of the population of Wales. The ways in which poor air quality can adversely impact on health have been well documented and, as a result, Public Health Wales has a key role to play in raising awareness about the health consequences associated with exposure to air pollutants and investigating the risks associated with air pollution episodes, incidents and events.

Public Health Wales works with a broad range of stakeholder agencies including the Emergency Services, Health Boards, the Health Protection Agency, Environment Agency, Local Authorities and Welsh Assembly Government to assess the level of risk associated with actual or anticipated air pollution-related events where there may be public health implications. The organisation is responsible for ensuring that any public health response required is appropriate, timely and well co-ordinated. It also has a responsibility to communicate any identified risks to those agencies, communities and population groups that need to know so that appropriate action can be taken.

COMEAP is an Advisory Committee of independent experts that provides advice to government departments and agencies on all matters concerning the effects of air pollutants on health.

Latest advice from COMEAP suggests that:

  • When air pollution is LOW (1-3) effects are unlikely to be noticed even by those who are sensitive to air pollution.
  • When air pollution is MODERATE (4-6) at-risk people may notice mild effects.
  • When air pollution is HIGH (7-9) at-risk people may notice significant effects and should take action.
  • When air pollution is VERY HIGH (10) effects on at-risk people, described for HIGH pollution, may worsen and action should be taken.

Air pollution can cause short-term health effects to sensitive individuals (people who suffer from heart disease or lung diseases, including asthma). Effects on sensitive people can be reduced by spending less time outdoors. ´Reliever´ inhalers should lessen effects on asthma sufferers.