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Port Talbot listed as the 'most polluted area of the UK'

Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/PA Images

Port Talbot is listed as the most polluted area in the UK, according to a new report.

It suggested dozens of towns and cities suffer from unsafe levels of air pollution and urged the UK Government has been urged to take action.

Thirty-two areas in Britain are exceeding limits of PM2.5 deemed safe by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The tiny particles, which come from sources like transport, industry, coal plants and burning wood, fuels or waste, are linked to diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and disease, and respiratory infections.

Levels of PM2.5 particles in the air in Port Talbot were recorded as 18 micrograms per cubic metre, nearly double the WHO recommended limit of 10.

But Cardiff, Chepstow, Newport and Swansea are also failing, or close to failing, WHO standards.

The report added that seven million people a year are dying due to poor air quality, and nine out of 10 people worldwide are exposed to levels of air pollution that are dangerous to their health.

Clean air campaigners called for the UK Government, which has faced legal action over its failure to meet legal targets on another air pollutant nitrogen dioxide, to take steps to stop people breathing dirty air.

This report reconfirms that air pollution is one of the leading environmental public health crises in the UK today.

Action to reduce the toxic particles in the air we breathe can no longer be delayed.

How much more evidence do we need to see before the Government sets new legal limits on pollution levels to protect the nation's lung health?

– Alison Cook, British Lung Foundation

While air quality in the UK has improved significantly since 2010, this report from the WHO clearly shows the impact air pollution is having on the health of men women and children in the UK and across the world.

Tackling this important issue is a priority for this government which is why we have a £3.5billion plan to improve air quality and reduce harmful emissions and will set out further actions through a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy later this year.

– Defra spokesperson