Russian Agricultural Fires Raise Pollution in Scotland
11 May 2006
published by The Scotsman
United Kingdom — Pollution from controlled agricultural fires in Russia caused dangerously high levels of pollutants in Scotland yesterday. Hi-tech government sensors picked up the increase in the levels of particles at sites in Scotland and the north of England.
Concentrations were high enough to breach the air-quality standards in some locations, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
The fires, which have been burning for several days, are likely to be a result of seasonal agricultural burning which takes place every year
The impact on UK air quality is unusual, and pollution may have been exacerbated by uncontrolled spread of the fires due to dry conditions, and by prevailing weather, DEFRA said.
The pollution was of concern because of the small size of the particles.
Larger particles are generally filtered by small hairs in the nose and throat and do not cause problems, but particulate matter smaller than about ten micrometres, referred to as PM10, can settle in the lungs and cause health problems.
The Meteorological Office said that the easterly air-flows which have brought the particles to the UK are likely to remain over the next few days and that this will not change until Saturday. Until then, the levels of PM10 may depend on how quickly the fires are brought under control.
The UK government is pushing for a revision of the United Nations Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution to prevent similar occurrences in the future, a DEFRA spokesman said.
Smoke from agricultural fires in Western Russia has been spreading northward over the United Kingdom, Ireland and out over the Atlantic Ocean, casting a gray pall over the blue waters of the ocean.. This image from 10 May 2006, was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASAs Aqua satellite.