97% of UK addresses breach at least one WHO limit for air pollution

Analysis by the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) reveals nearly 3 in 4 UK addresses breach the World Health Organization (WHO) limits of three air pollutants, while almost all UK homes breach at least one WHO limit for toxic air.

For the first time, experts of Imperial College London generated a 20 metres squared resolution national model of air pollution, with data recorded at 20,000 monitoring sites in over 320 UK council areas.

The data has been launched by COPI via the national pollution checker website,

Along with providing pollution levels at a specific address, the website also gives every property in the UK a percentile ranking, making it easy to compare air pollution levels across the country.

With the public release of this new data, COPI is pushing for clear legislation to publish air pollution ratings by estate agents, property websites, surveyors and conveyancers, similar to the obligations to disclose the presence of other dangerous substances, such as asbestos and radon.

cars parked on side of the road during daytime

Humphrey Milles, Founder of COPI and creator of the website, said: ‘Air pollution affects all of us. It’s a group one cause of cancer, just like asbestos. With this new accurate data now publicly available, it would be shameful for the property industry to not start acting transparently. Lives depend on it.

‘Everyone has a right to know what they’re breathing before they buy or rent. And of course, we have our own part to play in this too. Air pollution isn’t insurmountable, and we can all do something about it.’

Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, whose nine-year-old daughter, Ella, died of air pollution in 2013, commented: ‘This data shows yet again that the government is failing the British public. Now people can really see the filthy air they’re breathing at their home, school or work address, and it is no wonder that the NHS waiting lists are ever growing. Everyone needs to know what they’re breathing, and now with this new public service they can.’

Commenting on the new data and legal findings, Rebecca Marsh of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) said: ‘Air pollution is information all consumers should be aware of before they make a decision on a specific property. Arguably, this is material information that all sellers or landlords should be providing to potential buyers or tenants.’

Photo by Caspar Rae


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2 years ago

I’d very much like to know the age of the data sets and see the raw data that COPI are using

2 years ago

Me too Adam. It has to be from generalised modelling in those many parts of the UK where no actual monitoring takes place. Have you see the list of Defra air quality monitoring sites? Not all the local authorities are monitoring their air quality directly so how can anyone really say what the level is in a given street?

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