HEALTH bosses are once again informing residents in West Fife villages affected by an ash cloud overhead that the dust could be bad for their health.

NHS Fife have redistributed previous warnings to locals in Newmills, Torryburn and Valleyfield to avoid inhaling the dust-type residue emanating from the Valleyfield ash lagoons.

The ash is a by-product of the coal burned at Longannet Power Station, due to recent dry and windy conditions.

Dr Margaret Hannah, NHS Fife Director of Public Health, is advising those affected by the residue to shut their windows and doors and avoid leaving their homes if possible.

In a joint statement released with the Scottish Enviornmental Protection Agency (SEPA) at 4.23pm yesterday (Thursday), she said: “NHS Fife has been in communication with Fife Council and SEPA who are working with Scottish Power to control the source of this dust and stop the problem.

“However, breathing in dust can be bad for your health especially if you have heart or lung disease, or asthma already.

“For this reason, whilst we do not have any evidence at present that the type of fine ash in West Fife presents a greater health risk than other fine dusts, those in the affected area are best advised to avoid inhaling the dust wherever possible.

“This may involve, for example, shutting windows and doors, and limiting outdoor activities, when it is dusty outside.”

Torryburn Primary School pupils were kept in at break and lunch one day last week as parents and staff feared for the health and safety of the children.

Energy giant Scottish Power had previously apologised for the ash arising from the lagoons as they continue with efforts to solve the environmental problem.

Iain Cruickshank, SEPA’s Area Manager for the South East, stated that samples of the ash have been taken for examination as they assess whether it's harmful.

He said: “Scottish Power has now been issued with two enforcement notices for the Valleyfield Ash Lagoons, near Longannet Power Station and SEPA officers continue to actively monitor their progress to suppress dust from the ash lagoons.

"Samples are being taken recently to ensure that prolonged ash emissions are not adversely affecting the local environment. Emissions from the site are a breach of the Site’s environmental permit, therefore Scottish Power is required to have adequate dust suppression in place at all times.

"We are aware that local residents close to the site have experienced further issues with dust. We have made Scottish Power aware of this and we expect them to resolve the problems as soon as possible."