Stoke-on-Trent’s most polluted street has similar levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide to massive cities like Shanghai, Los Angeles and Seoul, a report has shown.
A stretch of the A53 Etruria Road in Basford has air pollutant NO2 twice as high as any other part of the city, says the report by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
The nearest monitoring station, which clocked the high results, is metres from a set of busy traffic lights and a roundabout leading onto the A500.
Nitrogen dioxide is the harmful product of combustion that occurs in most cars and builds up in high traffic areas.
Concentrations above 40μg/m3 have been known to decrease lung function and increase risk of respiratory problems.
The Basford station showed an annual mean reading of 70.6μg/m3, with even higher numbers in previous years, says the report.
In comparison, other polluted areas of the city like Cobridge and parts of Meir, had readings of between 30-40μg/m3.
The Basford reading is on a par with some of the world’s most populated cities, with Shanghai, Los Angeles, Seoul and Madrid in the range of 60-80μg/m3.
One resident, who has lived on Etruria Road since 1978, close to the monitoring station, struggled to be heard over the afternoon traffic outside her door.
“It’s always been the same since we’ve been here,” she said.
“You can’t have the windows open, when the traffic’s up and down the road: you can smell the pollution.
“I’ve walked down the road plenty of times and when the traffic goes past you can smell the fumes.
“I should imagine that’s the cause. It’s horrible.”
Despite this, NO2 concentrations across the city have taken a downward trend in recent years, with lower emission cars becoming more common on our roads.
Cllr Randy Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “The quality of air across the city is something that is monitored carefully, as the health of residents – and visitors – is one of our key priorities.
“The latest monitoring results support a general downward trend in concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in most areas of the city, and Basford is one place where we are looking to reduce pollution levels still further.
“Ways to mitigate the issues there are being considered and this will be consulted upon in due course.
“There is no single solution to the problem of air pollution, but the city council, alongside key partner agencies, will continue to work towards improving local air quality.”
Adam Colclough, spokesman for North Staffordshire Green Party, said: “Air pollution is a serious problem and one with which the Green Party is rightly concerned.
“Traffic is one of the largest contributory factors in creating air pollution.
“We can best address this problem by reducing the number of vehicles on the road through investing in a better public transport system and giving businesses an incentive to source goods and services locally.
“This will not only help to protect the environment it will also create jobs in the local economy.”
The cleanest air in the report was found to be on the outskirts of the city in Trent Vale, the north of Burslem, and Trentfield Road, Baddeley Edge.