Climate Action

Map finds nearly 2,000 sites in the UK breaching air pollution limits

A map, created by Friends of the Earth, has found nearly 2,000 sites that are breaching air pollution limits.

  • 27 February 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

A map, created by Friends of the Earth, has found nearly 2,000 sites that are breaching air pollution limits.

The map, with data taken from the most recent local authority annual Air Quality Status Reports submitted to the Government, has pinpointed which sites in the UK has unsafe air quality. 

In order to meet the Annual Air Quality Objective a site must have an annual average Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) level below 40ug/m3. The map revealed 1,845 sites across the UK that have breached this limit.

High levels of NO2 can cause a flare up of asthma or symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing. A leading cause of NO2 pollution is emissions from road traffic. 

In London, Earls Court Station in Kensington had the highest annual average level of NO2 at 129.5ug/m3. Kensington High Street and the Strand in Westminster followed closely behind with pollution levels above 90.

A recent report found that air pollution on the London Underground was 30 times higher than busy roads. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has implemented a number of strategies to reduce London’s pollution, but Friends of the Earth say more needs to be done to meet the limit set.

Outside of London, Neville Street in Leeds clocked in at 99ug/m3 and 2 sites in Doncaster were over 80 ug/m3, double the proposed limit.

Simon Bowens, clean air campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “It’s unforgivable that across the UK there are nearly two thousand locations over air quality limits, leaving millions of us breathing dangerously polluted air.”

Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to introduce more Clean Air Zones, removing polluting vehicles from the road will improve public health and reduce carbon emissions.

Simon Bowens added: “The government needs to step up and do more to help deal with this air pollution crisis – they can’t just carry on leaving the difficult decisions with local authorities, many of which are severely under-resourced.”

View the full map here.