Lung cancer risk in many UK towns and cities

The UK has been referred to Europe’s highest court for failing to tackle illegal levels of air pollution.

Air pollution can cause lung cancer
Almost 8 per cent of lung cancers are caused by air pollution

The announcement comes after the publication of a report earlier this month by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which found over 40 UK towns and cities are being exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution.

Fine-particle air pollution is particularly bad for us. An estimated 7.8% of lung cancers each year in the UK are thought to be caused by PM2.5 air pollution exposure. It is this microscopic particle that can cause lung cancer.

Measuring approximately 1/30th of the width of a human hair, these particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing diseases including stroke, heart disease, respiratory infections and lung cancer.

We understand that close to 8 per cent of lung cancers are linked to air pollution so it is imperative that the government acts now
Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

The WHO estimates that 30 areas have fine-particle air pollutions levels above 10 micrograms per cubic metre and a further 17 at that limit.

At risk towns and cities

Scunthorpe: 15
Gibraltar: 14
Manchester: 13
Swansea: 13
Gillingham: 13*
Carlisle: 12*
Chepstow: 12*
Leeds: 12
Leicester: 12
Liverpool: 12
Grays: 12*
Eccles: 12*
Nottingham: 12*
Plymouth: 12*
York: 12
Prestonpans: 12
Royal Leamington Spa: 12
Sandy: 12
Sheffield: 12*
Stoke-on-Trent: 12
London: 11
Coventry: 11
Hull: 11*
Londonderry: 11
Middlesbrough: 11
Norwich: 11*
Southend-On-Sea: 11
Stockton-On-Tees: 11
Storrington: 11
Wigan: 11
Armagh: 10*
Birmingham: 10
Brighton: 10
Bristol: 10
Cardiff: 10
Eastbourne: 10
Harlington: 10
Newcastle: 10*
Newport: 10
Oxford: 10
Portsmouth: 10
Preston: 10
Salford: 10*
Saltash: 10
Southampton: 10
Stanford-Le-Hope: 10
Port Talbot: 10

Air pollution can cause lung cancer
Diesel fumes are a main reason behind the increase in air pollution

A spokesperson at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said:

“While air quality in the UK has improved significantly since 2010, this report from the WHO clearly shows the impact air pollution is having on health of men, women and children in the UK and across the world.

“Tackling this important issue is a priority for this government which is why we have a £3.5bn plan to improve air quality and reduce harmful emissions and will set out further actions through a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy later this year.”

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation comments:

“Many people still believe that only smokers can get lung cancer but around 15 per cent of people with lung cancer have never smoked.

“We understand that close to 8 per cent of lung cancers are linked to air pollution so it is imperative that the government acts now and we support the calls for it to adopt WHO air quality guidelines into national legislation.”

*Estimated figures

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