Asthma UK warns toxic air from Saharan dust could put people with asthma at severe risk - and advises them to stay indoors

News released today says the sun has turned red because of winds pulling up Saharan dust, apparently caused by Hurricane Ophelia. Sonia Munde, Head of the Helpline at Asthma UK, says:

“We are deeply concerned about the toxic air from Saharan dust that Hurricane Ophelia has churned up, as this could pose a severe risk for the 5.4million people in the UK who have asthma. Winds picking up dust and particles in the air could trigger potentially fatal asthma attacks. When a similar dust storm happened in April 2014, Asthma UK found a third of people told us they’d had an asthma attack as a result of the pollution and 84% said they had used their blue inhaler more than usual.

“We urge anyone with severe asthma to check weather forecasts and stay indoors where possible. Everyone with asthma must make sure they take their reliever inhaler (usually blue) everywhere with them and continue to manage their asthma with their preventer inhaler (usually brown). If you have an asthma attack and are unable to control it, call 999. For further information and support visit asthma.org.uk/Saharan-dust.”

Additional information:

  • 1 in 11 people have asthma in the UK
  • Every 10 seconds someone is having a potentially life threatening asthma attack in the UK
  • 68% of people with asthma find air pollution makes their symptoms worse, increasing their risk of a life threatening asthma attack.
  • 78% of people with asthma tell us that cold or damp weather makes their asthma worse over the winter.*
  • When Saharan Dust triggered high pollution levels in April 2014 almost a third (30%) of people with asthma who responded to an overnight poll (532 respondents) told the charity they had had an asthma attack as a result of the pollution and 84% reported using their blue reliever inhaler more than usual.
  • 30% of people with asthma tell us they avoid exercising or going outdoors in the winter as they don’t feel as healthy as they do at other times of the year.* 

*According to Asthma UK’s ‘Asthma and Christmas’ survey completed by 1,600 people in October/November 2015.