ALMOST one in every 11 deaths are caused by air pollution, figures show. The UK now has one of the worst health records in Europe for nitrogen dioxide, mainly found in diesel fumes, and has been named and shamed over the issue.

Figures from the European Environment Agency blame air pollution for 52,240 deaths in 2014. That is roughly one in 11 of the total deaths recorded in the UK that year.

Pollution is thought to trigger heart attacks and strokes because inhaling toxic particles raises blood pressure and cause our arteries to narrow. The deaths will increase pressure on the Government to bring in the diesel car scrappage payments it is currently considering. They are attributed to nitrogen dioxide, ozone and tiny pollution particles named PM 2.5, all of which come from traffic, industry and agricultural emissions.

Oliver Hayes, clean air campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: ‘The nation’s congested towns and cities, its woefully underfunded public transport system, and a car fleet swelled with dirty diesels are all combining to create a health crisis of devastating proportions.’ European officials say 80 per cent of premature deaths from pollution follow heart disease or strokes.

Emissions are also linked to lung diseases and cancer, while evidence is emerging that road fumes could also trigger Alzheimer’s disease. The report shows 14,050 people died early because of nitrogen dioxide in 2014, which hit dangerous levels in parts of London including Westminster and Marylebone Road.

Road tax was cut for diesel cars by Labour 16 years ago because they emit less carbon dioxide, but they produce far more nitrogen dioxide than petrol vehicles.

Another 37,600 deaths are attributed to PM 2.5 particles, which are so microscopic they are inhaled deep into our lungs.

And 590 deaths are attributed to ozone, which is created by nitrogen dioxide when it is exposed to sunshine.

A total of 570,341 deaths were recorded across Britain in 2014, including 501,424 reported in England and Wales by the Office for National Statistics.

Rose Rogers, clean air campaigner for Greenpeace, said: ‘Even more people are being forced to live with the effects of air pollution every day. ‘Children, the elderly and those already suffering with ill health are worst affected.’

The largest impact on health attributed to nitrogen dioxide exposure is seen in the UK, Serbia, Italy, Germany and Belgium.

In Britain almost 90 per cent of areas were found to have illegal levels of pollution. The report determined this by comparing British levels to the lowest-emission areas elsewhere in Europe.

The different types of pollution are then compared to their known effects on health.

Hans Bruyninckx, executive director of the European Environment Agency, said: ‘ With bold decisions and smart investments in cleaner transport, energy and agriculture, we can both tackle pollution and improve our quality of life.’

A Defra spokesman said: ‘We have put in place a £3billion plan to improve air quality and reduce harmful emissions.

‘We will also end the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040, and next year we will publish a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy which will set out further steps to tackle air pollution.

‘We now have an opportunity to deliver a Green Brexit and improve environmental standards as we leave the EU.’

‘Elderly are worst affected’

Daily Mail14 Oct 2017By Victoria Allen Science Correspondent This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.