Health Advice

Air Pollution and Health

Jumping man Air pollution can cause short-term health effects in sensitive individuals (e.g. people who already suffer from heart disease or lung diseases, including asthma). If your health is good, the air quality we are exposed to in East and West Sussex, Brighton and Hove is unlikely to have any serious short-term effects. However, people with lung disease or heart conditions are at greater risk, especially if they are elderly. There is little evidence that air pollution itself causes asthma. However, if you already have asthma, you may find that high levels of air pollution can trigger an attack.

What to do when pollution levels are high?

When pollution levels are high, people with heart condition or severe lung disease may be affected. If you have a heart condition and you notice a change in your symptoms, get medical advice as you normally would.

airAlert – supporting people with air pollution alerts

Health Advice Sussex-air provides the "airAlert" service for people with respiratory and heart conditions. People can register and receive pollution warnings for their location, through-out the year.

airAlert messages provide information which relate to the potential of a pollution event happening.

To join or find out more about airAlert either visit and select the Sussex service or contact Sussex-air on 01273 484 331 and we can register you.

Health advice for people with respiratory conditions

Effects on sensitive people can be reduced by spending less time outdoors. 'Reliever' inhalers should lessen effects on asthma sufferers. For specialist advice on the effects of pollution on your specific condition please contact your health professional.

If you have asthma, you may need to change your treatment in the usual way.

  • If traffic fumes make breathing harder, try to avoid busy streets
  • If you are elderly, think about reducing your exposure during a period of high pollution, such as staying indoors, reducing any energetic activities, keeping cool in summer and keeping warm in winter
  • Avoid energetic outdoor activities during the period when pollution levels are higher
  • If your child has asthma, they should be able to take part in games as normal, but they may need to use their reliever inhaler before they start
  • If you have eye, nose or throat irritation, chest discomfort or cough, consult your community pharmacist for advice

Air Quality levels and advice

Health advice is based on the UK Air Quality Banding system approved by the Committee on Medical Effects of Air Pollution Episodes (COMEAP). The system uses an index divided into four bands to provide more detail about air pollution levels in a simple way, similar to the sun index or pollen index.

Low Pollution Low
When air pollution is LOW effects are unlikely to be noticed even by those who are sensitive to air pollution.
Moderate Pollution Moderate
When air pollution is MODERATE sensitive people may notice mild effects but these are unlikely to need action.
High Pollution High
When air pollution is HIGH sensitive people may notice significant effects and may need to take action.
Very High Pollution Very High
When air pollution is VERY HIGH effects on sensitive people, described for HIGH pollution, may worsen.


Smoking is likely to have a much more serious effect on your health than air pollution. Advice on stopping smoking is available from: QUITLINE number is: 0800 00 22 00.

Other Sources of Information about air pollution

TELETEXT - pages 106

Freephone - 0800 55 66 77

Internet -

Bulletins may also be given out with national television weather forecast.

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Back to Air Quality and Health

Current Alerts

Low airAlert icon
No airAlerts are currently active for Sussex

No service ColdAlert icon
Level 0
'Service not operational'

Alerting Services

AirAlert Logo
Service which sends free messages direct to vulnerable people informing them about air pollution levels. Read more..
HeatAlert Logo
Provides advance warning as to when a heatwave will occur so that there is time to plan and take preventative action. Read more..
ColdAlert Logo
Severe cold weather alerts to vulnerable people over the winter Read more..



Contact Sussex Air

Telephone : 01273 481 692

Email :