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29 April 2022

How polluted is your local area?

Almost all homes in the UK are in areas that breach at least one World Health Organisation limit for toxic pollutants.

By Polly Bindman

Almost every UK home — 97 per cent of them — is in a place that breaches at least one World Health Organisation (WHO) limit for toxic pollutants, while 70 per cent have to cope with breaches of all three limits.

Analysis carried out by the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) based on Imperial College London data provides a breakdown of the levels of pollution recorded at 20,000 monitoring sites in every major UK town and city. The analysis was published yesterday via the COPI’s, where anyone can enter their postcode to see how pollution in their area compares with the national average.

A regional breakdown of the data shows that Slough, closely followed by London, has the highest proportion of homes in the most polluted 10 per cent of the UK. On the other end of the scale, five areas -- Hartlepool, Redditch, Southport, Stockton-on-Tees and Telford -- have no homes in or above the 90th percentile.

Air pollution, which has a significant impact on public health and reduces the life expectancy of every resident in the UK by seven to eight months, is disproportionately concentrated in more deprived areas.

Last year a coroner ruled that air pollution contributed to the death in 2013 of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, 9, who lived in the London borough of Lewisham. Her mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, said that this data showed “yet again” how the government was “failing the British public”.

“Now people can really see the filthy air they’re breathing at their home, school or work address, and it is no wonder that the NHS waiting lists are ever growing," she said. "Everyone needs to know what they’re breathing, and now, with this new public service, they can.”

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