Residents of Leamington Spa are breathing air which exceeds the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) pollution safety limits for the third year in a row, according to their new report.
The report highlighted the town’s high concentration of the particularly dangerous fine air pollution PM2.5, which stands at 12 micrograms per cubic metre.
The figure is considerably above the WHO’s limit, which stipulates pollution should be at no more than 10 micrograms per cubic metre.
In the past the blame has been laid on the high concentration of tall buildings surrounding main roads, as well as the use of old buses and diesel cars.
Whilst the figures were comparatively high, they were recorded between 2013 and 2015, casting doubt on their accuracy three years later in 2018.
Leamington’s pollution concentration is higher than that of both neighbouring city Coventry and the capital London, although it has less of a problem than the worst performing areas in the UK. Scunthorpe and Manchester have 15 and 14 micrograms per cubic metre respectively.
According to the WHO, nine out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air, with the problem often worse in highly developed countries as energy and fuel use increases. Breathing in dangerous particles can lead to increased risk of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, whilst it can also exacerbate chronic and acute diseases like asthma.
Labour’s Matt Western, MP for Warwick and Leamington, told the Leamington Courier that the news would “come as no surprise to residents” and called for “urgent action from the government”, which has committed to reducing long term emissions on a national scale.
A spokesperson for Warwick District Council, also speaking to the Leamington Courier, stressed the importance of an action plan published in 2015, adding that “some of these measures include improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure, increasing electric vehicle charging provision, junction improvements on key travel corridors and improving public information.”