Glasgow one of the worst cities in Britain for air pollution

Congested areas such as Renfield Street in Glasgow can contribute to poorer air quality. Picture: Robert Perry
Congested areas such as Renfield Street in Glasgow can contribute to poorer air quality. Picture: Robert Perry
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Glasgow is one of the worst urban areas in the UK for air pollution, a major new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed.

Scotland’s largest city was found to regularly breach safe levels of particulate matter (PMs).

WHO’s latest data found Glasgow joins Port Talbot, Stanford-Le-Hope, London, Scunthorpe, Leeds, Eastbourne, Nottingham, Southampton and Oxford in having the worst air quality in the UK.

Experts warned air pollution increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases for residents in affected areas.

READ MORE: Time to clean up our act on air pollution

Friends of the Earth campaigner Jenny Bates described the latest findings as “a public health crisis”.

She said: “This is yet another report which shows the air we breathe is unsafe. With 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK from air pollution, what more will it take for our political leaders to act?

“We need fewer and cleaner vehicles with a Clean Air Zone in every city and large town - and politicians must urgently introduce a diesel scrappage scheme to get the worst-polluting vehicles off our roads, as well as more investment in alternatives to driving.”

The report found ambient air pollution - made of high concentrations of small and fine particulate matter - is the greatest environmental risk to health.

It causes more than three million premature deaths around the world every year.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said the local authority took its responsibility to monitor air quality very seriously.

She added: “In fact the latest data for air quality in the city shows that both the Scottish Air Quality Objective and WHO target level for the pollutants PM10 and PM2.5 were met across the city in 2015.

“While we have made good progress, we recognise there is more to be done. The council is a key partner in the Scottish Government’s Clean Air for Scotland Strategy which is intended to define the path to achieving full compliance with the relevant air quality standards over the next few years.”

Glasgow MSP and Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: “Another year, another dire warning about Glasgow’s toxic air. This was one of the first issues I raised when I was elected 13 years ago, and there has never been anything close to a serious attempt by local or national government to get a grip of the situation.

“For all those years it’s been clear that Glasgow’s appalling air quality is harming the health of those who live here and those who visit our city. We urgently need bold measures to reduce traffic levels and create safer streets for walking and cycling, as is the norm in other European cities. If the First Minister agrees this situation needs closer attention, I’d urge whoever she appoints as Transport Minister in her new cabinet to make it a priority.”