- Some 61 per cent of under-18s live in areas with excess nitrogen dioxide
- All children in London face illegal pollution as every borough exceeded the limit
- Air pollution is linked to heart disease and causes many premature deaths
About 8million children are breathing in illegally high levels of air pollution, figures suggest.
Estimates show 61 per cent of under-18s live in areas where nitrogen dioxide exceeded legal limits in 2015.
That includes 2.5million under the age of five, according to figures held in the House of Commons library.
All children in London face illegal pollution levels, as air quality limits were exceeded in all boroughs in the capital.
Estimates show 61 per cent of under-18s live in areas where nitrogen dioxide exceeded legal limits in 2015
Outside London, Yorkshire was worst-affected, with an estimated 83 per cent of youngsters in the region living with illegal pollution levels. In July, ministers unveiled court-mandated plans for meeting EU limits on nitrogen dioxide, much of which comes from road transport and particularly diesel vehicles.
But official estimates suggest compliance for nitrogen-dioxide levels will not be met until 2026.
Air pollution causes an estimated 40,000 premature deaths a year and is linked to problems including heart disease.
Air pollution causes an estimated 40,000 premature deaths a year and is linked to problems including heart disease
Labour’s environment spokesman Sue Hayman said: ‘With the majority of our young people now growing up in areas that breach air quality limits it’s clear the UK is in the middle of a dirty air emergency. Dirty air is a clear and present health hazard; it can take years off a person’s life.
‘We need to act, to protect the health of all our children and the wellbeing of the country.’
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: ‘Air pollution has improved significantly since 2010, but we recognise there is more to do which is why we have put in place a £3.5billion plan to improve air quality and reduce harmful emissions.
‘We will also end the sale of conventional new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040.’