A SCIENTIST has called pollution from the huge tyre fire in Bradford "worse than Bonfire Night".

Experts from the University of Leeds and the University of Bradford were called to assist in the monitoring of air quality following the huge fire in the East Bowling area.

The fire, which started on Monday on a site off Upper Castle Street, saw rail lines, roads, schools, courts and businesses closed and was so large that smoke reached as far as Leeds. 

Many of the 17 schools shut today across Bradford cited reasons such as "concerns about poor air quality, acrid smoke causing air pollution and toxic fumes settling over the area".

While firefighters continue to tackle the fire, university air quality data scientists from Bradford and Leeds Universities were called in by council chiefs to assess air quality.

The results were used by the Environment Agency to give them better understanding of exposure levels and monitoring spots and the overall wellbeing of people working on site.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Data scientists from the University of Bradford with air quality testing equipment at the scene of the fireData scientists from the University of Bradford with air quality testing equipment at the scene of the fire

University of Leeds Associate Professor of Atmospheric Composition Dr Jim Mcquaid was asked by Bradford Council to attend on site on Tuesday night.

He said: "It was a bit of a mad scramble to get our pollution sensors to the site. I was surrounded by fire service personnel in breathing apparatus.

"Burning tyres are renowned for producing a pretty hideous cocktail of toxic chemicals, the smoke from this fire will have an impact on the local communities downwind, especially anyone with underlying respiratory conditions such as asthma.

"We are working with the Born in Bradford project on air pollution exposure in primary school children and this has given me some great contacts in the local community. In fact, after visiting the fire, I placed a sensor in a community leader’s garden to continue monitoring pollution levels.

"I was measuring on the upwind edge of the fire and my levels were similar to Bonfire Night, but the other monitoring teams would have been seeing much higher readings.

"In fact, I could smell the plume in Leeds on Wednesday afternoon as the wind turned more westerly, what we really need is some heavy rain to damp down this major fire."

Dr Dhaval Thakker, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Bradford, said: "We have developed air quality (AQ) kits which measure the AQ at three different strategic locations - one quite close to fire (50ft away, under the smoke and wind), another 0.1 mile away, near the police station but away from wind and smoke, and the third 0.3 miles away but in the line of fire, smoke and wind.”