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This unexpected English city has been named the most polluted in the UK

London didn’t even make the top ten

Amy Houghton
Written by
Amy Houghton

Air pollution is no joke. The Department for Health and Social Care calls it the ‘largest environmental risk to public health’ and estimates that up to 36,000 deaths are caused by man-made pollution each year. And we hate to tell you, but if you live somewhere urban, you’ve probably ingested more dirty air than you’d like to think.  

To highlight the scale of the problem, air quality publication HouseFresh looked into which cities have the most and fewest ‘good air days’ (defined by US Air Quality Index as when particulate matter concentration is below 12 micrograms per cubic metre of air). 

Out of the UK cities included in the study, Leeds unexpectedly claimed the title of the country’s most polluted with only 269 out of 365 ‘good air’ days in the year. Cardiff came in as the second-most polluted with 272. 

Surprisingly, London didn’t even feature in the study’s top 50 most polluted places in Europe, let alone the world. That’s despite research by Utility Bidder last year that found it to be the eighteenth most polluted city on the globe, based on air quality, light pollution and traffic congestion. However, it also didn't feature on this list of most polluted cities, either. 

On a more positive note, the three UK cities with the most good air days were Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast

Time Out’s take

No matter where your city ranks in this latest study, air pollution is a universal issue. So we’re all for any efforts to cut it down. From the airport with the highest carbon footprint to the sustainable travel companies you can feel good about booking with, we’re here to help you make decisions that benefit the planet. 

ICYMI: Can you guess which UK city has been named one of the ugliest places in the world?

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