Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

UK towns and cities suffer dangerously polluted air, report finds

London suffers from some of the most polluted air in the UK. Photo: PA

Dozens of British cities suffer from air so polluted the World Health Organisation warns it is dangerous to breathe, a report has revealed.

Of the 51 UK cities and towns listed in an air quality database, 44 fail the WHO's test for fine sooty particles smaller than 2.5 microns, which are linked to heart disease and premature death.

Exposure to the PM2.5s particles should not exceed 10 micrograms per cubic metre of air, the WHO says.

However, several British towns and cities average higher levels, the study found.

Glasgow (16) was cited as one of the polluted cities, followed by London (15), Cardiff (14), Birmingham (14) and Manchester (13).

Remarkably, the seaside resort of Eastbourne (15) and port city of Southampton (15) suffered similar levels of pollution to London, while Oxford (14) had a similar pollution level to Cardiff.

Air pollution is estimated to cause 40,000 premature deaths in the UK, costing the country £22.6 billion.

"There isn't a safe limit for the amount of pollution that's been defined as yet and we know the effects of poor air quality run from cradle to grave; it's a lifetime threat to human health,” said Dr Toby Hillman, one of the report's authors from the Royal College of Physicians.

"This is a really direct and tangible impact on UK health from the drivers of climate change, and taking action on air quality should be a priority."

Here is the WHO data list of air pollution levels, broken down by average annual PM2.5 numbers in micrograms:

  • Glasgow - 16
  • Scunthorpe - 16
  • Eastbourne - 15
  • Leeds - 15
  • London - 15
  • Salford - 15
  • Southampton - 15
  • Armagh - 14
  • Birmingham - 14
  • Cardiff - 14
  • Chepstow - 14
  • Gibraltar - 14
  • Oxford - 14
  • Port Talbot - 14
  • Portsmouth - 14
  • Stanford-le-Hope - 14
  • Stoke-on-Trent - 14
  • Thurrock - 14
  • Warrington - 14
Glasgow has among the highest levels. Credit: PA
  • Bristol - 13
  • Leamington Spa - 13
  • Manchester - 13
  • Newport - 13
  • Norwich - 13
  • Wigan - 13
  • Belfast - 12
  • Carlisle - 12
  • Hull - 12
  • Liverpool - 12
  • Nottingham - 12
  • Plymouth - 12
  • Prestonpans - 12
  • Swansea - 12
  • York - 12
  • Birkenhead - 11
  • Brighton - 11
  • Londonderry - 11
Brighton had a higher rating than Newcastle and Edinburgh. Credit: PA
  • Middlesbrough - 11

  • Saltash - 11

  • Southend-on-Sea - 11

  • Chesterfield - 10

  • Newcastle upon Tyne - 10

  • Reading - 10

  • Stockton-on-Tees - 10

  • Wrexham - 10

  • Aberdeen - 9

  • Bournemouth - 9

  • Grangemouth - 9

  • Sunderland - 9

  • Edinburgh - 8

  • Inverness - 6