Some 47 towns and cities across the UK are at or have exceeded air pollution limits set by the World Health Organization, its new report has found.
The WHO data shows 32 areas have fine particle air pollution levels above 10 micrograms per cubic metre, with the remaining 15 at that limit.
Areas that exceeded the level include London and Manchester, with the Welsh steelworks town Port Talbot the worst with the next most polluted UK areas being Scunthorpe and Salford on 15 micrograms.
Dirty air can cause debilitating diseases and hasten death. Fine air particle pollution is particularly bad for us, penetrating deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory infections, the WHO says. It estimates that globally 7 million people die each year from exposure to such pollution, with most of these deaths being in low and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa. Worldwide, the WHO's report estimated that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants.