Welsh cities are failing to meet WHO standards for air pollution

Air pollution data revealed today (01/05/18) shows that three Welsh cities and two Welsh towns are at or over World Health Organisation (WHO) standards for fine particle air pollution (PM2.5) – with the expanded database uncovering new examples of dangerously polluted air across the UK.

Cardiff, Chepstow, Newport, Port Talbot and Swansea are all failing WHO standards for PM2.5 pollution.

Friends of the Earth is calling for the UK to adhere to WHO standards for air pollution.

While the expansion of the WHO’s air quality database shows an increasing awareness of the public health crisis that is air pollution, it also further highlights that much more needs to be done to clean up the air we breathe, and fast.

Air pollution from particulates can cause lung cancer,  and worsen heart and lung disease. Research has found there is no safe limit of exposure. The WHO air pollution database also only tells part of the story, as it does not include figures on the deadly nitrogen dioxide gas which is also polluting our air and harming our health.

Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, said:

“As more air quality data becomes available, we are uncovering a deeply concerning number of places across the UK with dangerously polluted air. This demonstrates the need for further research, for us to properly understand and improve the state of air pollution across the UK.

“There is no such thing as a safe level of air pollution, though years of government complacency suggests they think otherwise.

“For the health and wellbeing of everyone, we need the forthcoming Air Quality Strategy to take a decisive stance and address air pollution from all sources. We need to see measures including a stronger national network of Clean Air Zones, a diesel scrappage scheme and investment in walking, cycling and public transport to enable as many car-free journeys as possible.”


The WHO air quality standard for PM2.5 is an annual average of 10 micrograms per cubic metre. The following UK towns and cities from the WHO database are at or over this level. *


  1. Armagh
  2. Biandrate
  3. Birmingham
  4. Brighton
  5. Bristol
  6. Cardiff
  7. Carlisle
  8. Chepstow
  9. Coventry
  10. Eastbourne
  11. Eccles
  12. Gibraltar
  13. Gillingham
  14. Grays
  15. Harlington
  16. Hull
  17. Leeds
  18. Leicester
  19. Liverpool
  20. London
  21. Londonderry
  22. Manchester
  23. Middlesbrough
  24. Newcastle Upon Tyne
  25. Newport
  26. Norwich
  27. Nottingham
  28. Oxford
  29. Plymouth
  30. Port Talbot
  31. Portsmouth
  32. Preston
  33. Prestonpans
  34. Royal Leamington Spa
  35. Salford
  36. Saltash
  37. Sandy
  38. Scunthorpe
  39. Sheffield
  40. Southampton
  41. Southend-On-Sea
  42. Stanford-Le-Hope
  43. Stockton-On-Tees
  44. Stoke-On-Trent
  45. Storrington
  46. Swansea
  47. Thurrock
  48. Wigan
  49. York

*the locations above have been taken directly from the WHO database, which has rounded the PM2.5 figures to the nearest whole number

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