A picturesque Dorset village has been found to have the worst air pollution in the country.
Chideock Hill in West Dorset was top of the list of more than 1,300 sites across the country where annual limits for harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide were breached.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth analysed the latest data on air pollution from English local authorities’ air quality annual status reports submitted to the government.
Earlier this year a preliminary study found that air pollution could be linked to increased deaths and cases of coronavirus in England.
It found 1,360 monitoring sites across the country exceeded the annual average air quality target of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air for nitrogen dioxide in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available.
Chideock Hill topped the list with a figure of 97.7, followed by Sheffield at 91.7 and Brighton at 90.8.
Also on the list were sites in Leeds, the Strand and other areas in London, and parts of Doncaster.
In some spots, the annual average was more than double the level set to protect health from long-term exposure to pollution, the analysis showed.
Nitrogen dioxide is linked to health issues such as lung and respiratory diseases and early deaths and mainly comes from traffic fumes.
Friends of the Earth is calling polluting vehicles to be removed from the roads and transport cleaned up.
Simon Bowens, clean air campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “The government must also end its damaging fixation on building more roads. You can’t justify this by planning to phase out polluting petrol and diesel vehicles and replace them with electric ones.
“We need to go much further than just getting out of one type of car and into another.”
There has been an improvement since last year’s audit by the green group, which saw 1,591 sites exceed the annual target.
More to do on tackling air pollution, says Defra
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “Air pollution has reduced significantly since 2010 – emissions of nitrogen oxides have fallen by 33% and are at their lowest level since records began.
“But we know there is more to do, which is why are taking urgent action to curb the impact air pollution has on communities across England through the delivery of our £3.8 billion plan to clean up transport and tackle NO2 pollution.
“This includes providing £880 million in funding and expert support to local authorities to improve air quality, and to introduce Clean Air Zones to further clean up the air we breathe.”
The 10 sites with the highest annual average nitrogen dioxide levels according to the Friends of the Earth analysis are:
Chideock Hill, West Dorset – 97.7
Station Taxi Rank, Sheffield – 91.7
North Street Clock Tower, Brighton – 90.8
Neville Street Tunnel, Leeds – 88
Strand, City of Westminster – 88
Walbrook Wharf, City of London – 87
Hickleton opp Fir Tree Close, Doncaster – 86
Marylebone Road, City of Westminster – 85
Euston Road, London Borough of Camden – 82.3
Hickleton, John O’Gaunts, Doncaster – 82