Revealed: Portsmouth’s ‘silent killer’ air pollution

THOUSANDS of people in the city are being exposed to the ‘silent killer’ of air pollution.

People in Portsmouth are inhaling air considered too dangerous to breathe by the World Health Organisation.

Out of 51 UK cities and towns listed in an air quality database, 44 fail the WHO’s test for fine sooty particles smaller than 2.5 microns across that have been linked to heart disease and premature death.

Exposure to the particles, known as PM2.5s, should not exceed 10 micrograms per cubic metre of air, according to the health organisation.

But in Portsmouth the annual average levels is higher at 14.

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How Portsmouth measures up to other areas in the south

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Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: ‘Air pollution is a silent and invisible killer.’

London and Leeds both had 15 micrograms of the particles in every cubic metre-sized parcel of air, Cardiff and Birmingham 14, and Manchester 13.

Each year, outdoor air pollution is estimated to cause 40,000 premature deaths in the UK – up to 9,000 in London alone – and cost the country £22.6 billion.

Dr Toby Hillman, one of the report’s authors from the Royal College of Physicians, said: ‘There isn’t a safe limit for the amount of pollution that’s been defined as yet and we know the effects of poor air quality run from cradle to grave; it’s a lifetime threat to human health.

‘This is a really direct and tangible impact on UK health from the drivers of climate change, and taking action on air quality should be a priority.’

The impact of air pollution in UK cities forms part of a major investigation looking at the health and social costs of climate change around the world led by a top medical journal.

Many cities and towns also broke the WHO limits for PM10s, slightly larger sooty specks considered less of a hazard than ultra-fine particles but still harmful to health.

Portsmouth’s annual mean PM10 was 18.

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