Yesterday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released its latest expanded data on air pollution, and almost fifty cities and towns failed to meet its standards for fine particle air pollution, or PM2.5.
PM2.5 are tiny particles of solids or liquids found in the air and the WHO has classed them as cancer-causing, in the same category as tobacco smoke. The WHO Air Quality Guideline level is 10 micrograms per cubic metre.
Salford has the joint highest level in England, along with Scunthorpe, of 15. This is higher than Manchester (13). Eccles isn't far behind, on 12.
Friends of the Earth states that there is "dangerously polluted air across the UK", calls it a "public health crisis" and is calling for adherence to WHO standards for air pollution.
"Air pollution from particulates can cause lung cancer, and worsen heart and lung disease" the organisation explains "Research has found there is no safe limit of exposure. The WHO air pollution database also only tells part of the story, as it does not include figures on the deadly nitrogen dioxide gas which is also polluting our air and harming our health."
Friends of the Earth is calling for urgent Government action to improve air quality, including more Clean Air Zones, the phasing out of high polluting diesel vehicles, with a government-led scrappage scheme, investment in clean, affordable and reliable public transport, support for alternatives to driving, such as safe cycling and walking, and an end to traffic-generating schemes such as airport expansion and road building.
"As more air quality data becomes available, we are uncovering a deeply concerning number of seemingly quaint, fresh aired places across the UK with dangerously polluted air" says Jenny Bates a Friends of the Earth campaigner "This demonstrates the need for further research, for us to properly understand and improve the state of air pollution across the UK. There is no such thing as a safe level of air pollution, though years of Government complacency suggests they think otherwise..."
To see all the WHO data – click here