Poor air quality in the Netherlands due to heat and pollen; Festivals go well despite the heat

The National Air Monitoring Network expects insufficient to poor air quality in the coming days beginning around midday due to high temperatures, especially in the central and southern parts of the Netherlands. Heat leads to a rapid increase in the concentration of ozone in the air. Since it is pollen season at the same time, the risk of respiratory complaints and cardiovascular problems increases.

According to environmental analyst and biologist Arnold van Vliet of Wageningen University, pollen is a risk factor for heart attacks. In addition to allergic symptoms, pollen also increases susceptibility to viral lung infections. The combination of the current peak in grass pollen, the heat, and high ozone concentrations in the afternoon hours is therefore unhealthy, he argues. Although health impact studies are ongoing in the Netherlands, it is known that heat and high pollen concentrations led to deaths in June 1995 and June/July 2006.

In general, experts advise people who are sensitive to pollen and smog to stay indoors as much as possible, close vents, and limit physical activity, especially in the late afternoon and early evening. The peak of grass pollen recedes at the end of the month when the grass dries out due to the heat. But right after that, mugwort begins to bloom, which also causes a lot of discomfort, as well as ragweed, which starts to bloom after that.

However, the festivals Best Kept Secret and Oerol are going well so far despite the heat and the poor air quality. At the moment, there are no unusual circumstances to report because of the high temperatures, the festival directors announced on Saturday afternoon.

Both events had announced earlier in the week that they were prepared for the heat. At the Best Kept Secret in Hilvarenbeek in Brabant, there are “enough shady spots” in the forest and enough water points where visitors can get free water, a spokesperson said.

Festival director Maurits Westerik said on Saturday the festival is going “very well” so far. There is “a lot of shade, but also a lot of sun” and the “lake and the forest” are good for festival-goers, he stressed. “The audience is relaxed and attentive.”

At Oerol on Terschelling, there is a central water tapping point, plenty of sunscreen is sold and visitors are warned on screens, a spokesperson said earlier. Festival director Siart Smit said so far “everything is normal” at the festival. “The sun is strong, but the temperature is not too bad,” he said.

According to Smit, the public is well prepared. “And we also warn them through a narrowcasting system to drink enough, to put on sunscreen, and to wear caps.”

Reporting by ANP

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