How clean is YOUR air? UK pollution hotspots are revealed using a new tool that lets you check toxic nitrogen dioxide levels where you live and work

  • App rates your area from one to six based on the presence of the toxic gas
  • It reflects the likelihood the area will break the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide
  • Diesel vehicles are a major source and it has been linked to respiratory disease
  • Three quarters of the UK’s worst areas for air pollution are in London

Concentrations of toxic contaminants in the air where you live and work in the UK can now be checked, thanks to a new tool.

Postcodes have been ranked based on nitrogen dioxide levels recorded by a firm that measures and models air pollution.

Diesel vehicles are a major source of the gas, which has been linked to respiratory disease.

The app reveals that Hyde Park Corner and Marylebone Road in London have the most polluted postcodes, while areas near east London’s Blackwall Tunnel were also ranked highly for nitrogen dioxide.

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The interactive app lets you type in your postcode and receive a rating from one to six, with one being the least polluted. London, Bristol and Leeds are all at the upper end of the results, while more than four in five postcodes in the UK are in the least polluted category

The interactive app lets you type in your postcode and receive a rating from one to six, with one being the least polluted. London, Bristol and Leeds are all at the upper end of the results, while more than four in five postcodes in the UK are in the least polluted category

POLLUTION HOTSPOTS IN THE UK 

Three quarters of the UK’s worst pollution areas are in London.

Marylebone Road and Hyde Park Corner and in the centre of the capital are two of the most polluted postcodes in the country.

Hotspots near east London’s Blackwall Tunnel also received a high ranking. 

High Street Kensington received a rating of three, which means it is likely that nitrogen dioxide levels will exceed the annual legal limit.

Leeds and Bristol city centres also scored relatively high ratings of four out of six. 

More than four in five postcodes in the UK are in the least polluted category.

That includes many urban areas, including the city centres of Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and Newcastle.

Fewer than one per cent of postcodes are rated either 4 or 5 and no postcodes fall into the highest category. 

The interactive app is the work of Leicester-based company EarthSense and the BBC. 

It lets you type in your postcode and receive a rating from one to six, with one being the least polluted.

This reflects the likelihood that area will break the annual legal limit for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an average of more than than 40 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre. 

It is based on a dataset of air quality at a resolution of 100 by 100 metres (330 by 330 feet).

This is based on a variety of data sources including road traffic data, satellite information and street map data.

EarthSense says it is the most detailed model yet for assessing air quality in Britain.

The company's technical director, Professor Roland Leigh, told the BBC: 'By focusing it down we can really isolate the hotspots of poor air quality, and better target our solutions.

'Air quality is actually getting better in Britain, and we are in a better state than a large number of countries - particularly across Asia.

'In Britain, it's always better to be outside exercising than inside avoiding pollution, even in the worst areas.'

Pollution is thought to lead to the early deaths of 40,000 people a year in Britain.

Three quarters of the UK’s worst pollution areas are in London. 

Three quarters of the UK’s worst pollution areas are in London. Marylebone Road and Hyde Park Corner and in the centre of the city are two of the most polluted postcodes in the country

Three quarters of the UK’s worst pollution areas are in London. Marylebone Road and Hyde Park Corner and in the centre of the city are two of the most polluted postcodes in the country

HOW MUCH NO2 IS SAFE?

Nitrogen dioxide comes from vehicles, power plants, industrial emissions and off-road sources such as construction, lawn and gardening equipment. 

All of these sources burn fossil fuels.  

The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued guidance for safe levels of inhalation of Nitrogen Dioxide, measured in parts per billion breathed over the course of an hour.

Safe to moderate levels range from zero to 100 parts per billion per hour.  

EPA GUIDANCE ON AIR QUALITY
Air Quality Index (ppb) Likely impact
Good (0-50) No health impacts are expected when air quality is in this range
Moderate (51-100) Individuals who are unusually sensitive to nitrogen dioxide should consider limiting prolonged outdoor exertion
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (101-150) People with lung diseases, such as asthma, as well as children and older adults, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion
Unhealthy (151-200) Sensitive groups should avoid outdoor exertion and everyone else should limit prolonged exertion
Very Unhealthy (201-300) Sensitive groups should avoid outdoor exertion and everyone else should limit theirs

Scientific evidence links short-term NO2 exposures, ranging from 30 minutes to 24 hours, with adverse respiratory effects including airway inflammation in healthy people and increased respiratory symptoms in people with asthma. 

Studies also show a connection between short-term exposure and increased emergency room visits and hospital admissions for respiratory illnesses.

Individuals who spend time on or near major roads can experience NO2 exposures considerably higher than occur away from roads. 

These exposures are of particular concern for sensitive groups, such as people with lung disease including asthma, children and older adults.

Fewer than one per cent of postcodes are rated either four or five, and no postcodes fall into the highest category. 

Leeds and Bristol city centres also scored relatively high ratings of four out of six. 

High Street Kensington, where MailOnline is based, received a rating of three,  which means it is likely that nitrogen dioxide levels will exceed the annual legal limit.

High Street Kensington, where MailOnline is based, received a rating of three, which means  nitrogen dioxide levels will likely exceed the annual legal limit

High Street Kensington, where MailOnline is based, received a rating of three, which means nitrogen dioxide levels will likely exceed the annual legal limit

Diesel vehicles are a major source of nitrogen dioxide, which has been linked to respiratory disease. In July, 2017, the government announced that new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2040 to improve air quality

Diesel vehicles are a major source of nitrogen dioxide, which has been linked to respiratory disease. In July, 2017, the government announced that new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2040 to improve air quality

More than four in five postcodes in the UK are in the least polluted category.

That includes many urban areas, including the city centres of Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and Newcastle.

In July, 2017,  the government announced that new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2040 to improve air quality.

The crackdown could also see the introduction of levies on busy roads for owners of the most polluting vehicles. 

The strategy was forced on the government by defeat in a High Court case on air pollution.

From 2040, drivers will be able to buy electric cars only – ending the near 150-year reign of the internal combustion engine.

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