TWENTY sites across the county are being monitored for air pollution levels as of this morning (Thurs.)

Herefordshire Council has confirmed a major monitoring operation is underway in response to the "Saharan smog" phenomenon that has pushed air pollution levels across the UK to some of the highest levels recorded.

Of the 20 sites in the county now being monitored for nitrogen oxide levels and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Bargates, Leominster, and the A49 corridor through Hereford are immediate areas of concern.

Bargates, in particular, has a long history of air pollution issues.

The council is repeating health warnings issued nationally over the smog. But, as yet, no specific public health plan has been activated.

For many across the county, contact with the smog has been a fine coating of sandy dust across  surfaces such as cars over the past 48 hours.

The smog is produced mainly by sunlight reacting with nitrogen oxides - emitted largely by traffic - and VOCs in the atmosphere.

Airborne particles are formed as sunlight hits these chemicals causing smog.

The pollution cloud has been caused by powerful dust storms brought in on the southerly winds from the Sahara and smog being blown in from the near continent.

More soon