06/12/2013

Air Pollution Text Service Launched

A new service has been launched that will enable air pollution updates to be sent by text message.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has launched Air Aware, aimed at people who have existing chronic health conditions such as asthma or heart disease, so they can choose to limit their time outdoors or avoid strenuous outdoor exercise.

Minister Durkan said: "With the launch of the Air Aware service, we are going further to ensure that the people who need air quality information the most receive it. For instance, those with chronic health conditions such as heart disease or asthma may find it beneficial to know if air quality is poor, so that they can then choose whether they need to adjust their daily routine when air pollution levels are high.

"My Department currently issues alerts to local media to inform the public of high air pollution events. There were five such alerts this year between January and April. These events usually happen in the winter when cold, calm weather conditions trap pollutants at ground level and there is a high level of households burning solid fuel.

"The service is designed to be easy to use - just text the word ‘AIR’ to 66101. I would also encourage GP surgeries and hospitals to register with the service so that they can work with us in getting the information to those who need it the most."

Health Minister Edwin Poots commented: "The air pollution text alert system is an important initiative with the potential for significant benefits for patients with long term conditions. Providing warnings to those most likely to be affected, as well as to key health professionals and services that subscribe, should contribute to improved personal and service responses to condition management during such events."

(IT)

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