Pollution alert system launched in Scotland

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Media captionScotland is to become the first part of the UK to offer a pollution alert system which could be incorporated into weather forecasts

Scotland is to become the first UK nation to offer pollution alerts.

The alerts will be sent via text message or email to those who sign up to the new system.

"People can subscribe to the service through the Scottish Air Quality website," explained climate expert Stuart Sneddon from AEA Scotland.

"The forecasting is done every day by ourselves. When we forecast moderate or worsening air quality, the next day they'll receive a text or an e-mail."

Air quality in Scotland is improving, but on some days levels are so high that it poses a risk to everyone.

More often it affects people with breathing problems but recent evidence has indicated that it can bring on heart attacks in those with cardiovascular disease.

"People don't realise that on a nice fresh winter's day there will be a higher particle count," said Dr Ken Anderson, a consultant chest physician in Ayrshire.

"An alert system gives them a way to know when to reduce the level of exercise that they do, and that's especially important for people who go jogging or have physical exertion on these days."

Wearing a mask doesn't help because the particles are too fine and tests have shown levels inside your car are often as high as those outside.

The EU has told all member states that they need to make information on air pollution more available.

In some countries pollution warnings are included in weather forecasts.

The new Know and Respond alert system has been funded by the Scottish Government.

"It's relevant to everyone in Scotland," said Mr Sneddon.

"You're breathing air, so it's relevant to you."

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