Health warnings have been issued as toxic farm chemicals from Europe and Saharan dust combine with a spring heat wave to bring about a spike in air pollution across South East England.
People with lung and heart conditions have been advised to reduce physical activity as temperatures were expected to reach 19C in places over the weekend and pollution levels reach moderate to high levels across the region.
Marco Petagna, from the Met Office, said parts of Kent and the far South East would see the highest levels of pollution, but it is likely to be washed away by rain early next week.
Call for emergency London air pollution restrictions
He said: "On Thursday, dust from the Sahara region was lifted up into the atmosphere.
"At the moment, certainly across the south of the UK, we've got southerly winds that's allowed that dust to transport northwards towards the UK.
"And with outbreaks of rain developing at times over the next couple of days, some of that will get washed out of the atmosphere and give a slight deposit of dust on cars."
At risk individuals, including those with lung and heart problems, should "reduce strenuous physical exertion" if they are in an affected area, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said. The worst affected places will be beaches and countryside of Kent and Sussex.
The forecast states
Defra's forecast for today states: "Air pollution levels may be locally High in the far east and southeast of England on Sunday with a southerly flow bringing air from North Africa to the southeast of England. This episode is considered to be primarily a result of Saharan dust. Elsewhere in East Anglia and southeast England Moderate air pollution levels are possible across wide areas, with other areas of the UK mainly Low."
Tropical continental air was brought to the UK by a change in wind direction, which brought pollutants with it. Heavy showers are expected early next week with generally unsettled weather, but temperatures could still reach 17C in places.
Clean Air London is calling on London Mayoral candidates to pledge they will introduce stronger Ultra Low Emissions Zones (ULEZ) in London to tackle locally-generated air pollutants but point out much of the air pollution is generated from outside the UK, requiring a Europe-wide approach.
The Met Office says average early April temperatures are around 11c. This year’s highest recorded temperature was 18.7c in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, in March.
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1980s Carerra tribute!
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but we don't
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