80% of inhabitants of regional British cities, and 63% of city-dwelling Londoners, are satisfied with their air quality
The World Health Organisation has named nine UK towns and cities which breach their safety guidelines for air pollution, putting residents at risk of respiratory disease and other health problems. The cities extend well beyond London: Nottingham, Sheffield, Birmingham, Stoke-on-trent, Southampton and Leeds all register as having levels of PM10 – particles small enough to penetrate the deepest part of the lungs – above the 20 micrograms per cubic metre level set by the organisation.
But a new YouGov survey finds that satisfaction with air quality is actually very high in cities outside of London; this is less true amongst people dwelling in the built up areas of the capital, but still true of a strong majority.
Of those in Greater London who identify as living in a city, i.e. barring those who live in suburban areas on the outskirts, 63% are satisfied with their air quality while 34% are dissatisfied.
The figures show that satisfaction with air quality in cities outside of London is as good as satisfaction in towns, where 83% are satisfied, 15% dissatisfied. Meanwhile, approval in villages or rural areas is almost unanimous (91% are satisfied, 7% dissatisfied), and approval among the British public as a whole is the same as in towns: 82% are satisfied, 15% dissatisfied.
Although nine British cities and towns exceed the World Health Organisation’s PM10 limits, none exceed those set by the European Union (40 micrograms per cubic metre). That said, London has been ranked by other studies as one of the worst in Europe for having done so little to reduce soot pollution produced by diesel vehicles. Additionally, government figures show that in 2010 up to 8.3% of deaths in the Capital were linked to pollution.