Greater London has the worst levels of air pollution, according to Defra’s Daily Air Quality Index, which is set to rise as lockdown restrictions ease and the capital renews itself as a tourism hub.
The capital has been ranked a score of 2.84 on the index. While the average score for the UK’s urban areas is 2.55.
The index, which takes records of a range of air pollutants to provide a daily index measure, using data from March last year to March 2021, ranked the coastal city of Portsmouth as the best for air quality – with a score of 1.5.
Meanwhile, the city with the biggest improvement in air quality is Glasgow which introduced Scotland’s first low emission zone in 2018.
The impacts of air pollution have yet to be fully realised, but December last year saw the first person in the UK to have ‘air pollution’ listed as a cause of death.
Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who lived near the South Circular Road in Lewisham, south-east London, died in 2013 following an asthma attack.
Southwark Coroner’s Court found that air pollution “made a material contribution” to her death.
“Childhood asthma remains a global epidemic that is likely to grow with the anticipated rise in particulate air pollution exposures due to the effect of climate change,” professor Rosalind Wright, who has led research into the impacts of air pollution on pregnancy, said.