A RARE mixture of air pollution, pollen and dust blown more than 1,500 miles has caused misery for allergy sufferers in Worcestershire this week.
The sky across the county and the rest of the UK was decidedly smoggy today as a result of a high level of air pollution just hours after dust from the Sahara Desert was blown over the country, coating cars and windows with a covering of dirt.
People with asthma, hayfever and breathing problems particularly suffered in the smoggy conditions.
Aeroallergen and agricultural air quality researcher with the University of Worcester Dr Carsten Skjøth said the region was experiencing a rare 'cocktail effect'.
"It's common to have the air pollution and pollen at this time of year but it's very unusual to have the cocktail with the dust as well," he said.
"These things happen on a regular basis but not so much at the some time.
"Whether it's going to happen more often I don't know."
He added pollen and air pollution was also being blown over from France and elsewhere in Europe, making the situation worse.
"This can affect people with hayfever and the cocktail could make their symptoms more severe," he said.
"But it's not something to be afraid of.
"People with hayfever or breathing difficulties can take their medication and go on as normal, but at the most severe times I would avoid exercising outside."
The dust storm also caused headaches for car owners, who woke up to find their vehicles caked in dirt.
Phil Bligh from Startin Honda in Bromyard Road said the cars in the forecourt were washed several times a week anyway, but this made more work for employees.
"It's just a case of having to clean them all again," he said.
"The rain will make it worse as it'll make them look like they haven't been cleaned in a week.
"It's just something we have to accept and deal with."
A spokesman from Joe Soaps car wash in Hylton Road said they had not seen an increase in customers as a result of the dust storm.
"It's been quite slow because people know as soon as they get the car washed it'll get dirty again," she said.
"Most of them are waiting a few days until it's all gone away."
The pollution is expected to have dispersed by Friday, with the Met Office forecasting sun and showers for the next two days, with a possibility for some thunderstorms on Thursday.
Saturday is predicted to be cloudy with some light rain while Sunday will be wet and windy.