THE worst air pollution in 60 years is set to sweep through parts of Essex threatening the health of the sick and vulnerable.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA] has warned people should be braced for "very high" levels of air pollution over the next two days.

The East of England, including parts of Essex, are among the worst-affected areas, and people with lung or heart conditions are being warned to avoid strenuous activity.

The increased air pollution levels have been caused by a combination of light south-easterly winds, the continental air flow and dust which has blown up from the Sahara desert.

A DEFRA spokesman said: "We want to keep improving air quality and have introduced a new five-day forecast service in addition to investing heavily in local and transport initiatives to tackle this issue head-on."

This week people found their cars to be covered in a light coating of red dust, which was sand and dust swept up by storm winds in the Sahara Desert.