SOUTHAMPTON has been named and shamed by the World Health Organisation for breaching safety levels for air pollution.

The majority of pollution is generated by traffic on the roads, with gridlock a well-known problem in the city particularly over recent months.

One way to measure air quality is to assess the levels of a type of pollution known as particulate matter (PMs).

And Southampton is one of nine UK towns and cities who breach the WHO's annual 'safe level' for PM10, along with the likes of Birmingham, Sheffield and London.

Dr Flavia Bustreo WHO assistant director-general for family, children and women's health, said: “Too many urban centres today are so enveloped in dirty air that their skylines are invisible.

''Not surprisingly, this air is dangerous to breathe. So a growing number of cities and communities worldwide are striving to better meet the needs of their residents - in particular children and the elderly.''

South East Green Party MEP Keith Taylor said the news was unsurprising and a real concern.

He said: “I have been very concerned about the air pollution in Southampton for several years now. The risks highlighted by the WHO together with British doctors point to air pollution, mainly from traffic, being the second biggest environmental killer.”

As reported by the Daily Echo, city council public health boss Cllr Dave Shields last month told a public meeting Southampton had a “wake-up call” over air pollution and pledged to find a solution.

The council also has an Air Quality Action Plan, Local Transport Strategy and My Journey initiative that all look at making improvements to air quality in the city.

Mr Taylor added the city council and the Government should encourage people to use public transport, bicycles and walking to reduce emissions.

It comes after Department of Health figures released in January revealed people are more likely to die from the effects of air pollution than anywhere else in Hampshire.

Around 6.31 per cent of deaths in Southampton are attributed to air pollution - the sixth highest anywhere in the south east of England - and an increase from 6.20 per cent in 2010.

And as reported by the Daily Echo in spring 2013, the city was put on high alert after contaminated clouds drifted across the English Channel from a chemical factory in the French city of Rouen.

Who are the UK's nine biggest offenders over air pollution?

  • Birmingham
  • Chesterfield
  • Leeds
  • London
  • Nottingham
  • Sheffield
  • Southampton
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Thurrock

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