Four streets in Aberdeen and three streets in each of Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow are contaminated by toxic concentrations of traffic fumes, according to the latest official air pollution monitoring results for 2013.
There are also dangerous pollution hotspots in Falkirk, Perthshire, Lanarkshire, Paisley, Irvine and West Lothian. In all these places average annual levels of nitrogen dioxide or tiny sooty particles in the air are above agreed health targets that should have been met years ago (see table below).
Air pollution, branded as the “silent killer” by environmentalists, is estimated by doctors to be responsible for four million deaths a year worldwide, and 166,000 deaths in Western Europe. One type of particulate pollution on its own is blamed for 1,600 deaths a year in Scotland.
Pollution can trigger heart attacks, aggravate lung diseases and cause infections. Last week a major new study warned that the risks of heart problems could be increased by exposure to pollution below European safety limits, and last year outdoor air pollution was formerly designated as a cause of cancer (see below).