Is air pollution worse in London?

London suffers from traffic related pollution in a similar way to most UK cities, but the sheer size of the city, along with a dense road network and high buildings, means that central London tends to be one of the most polluted places in the UK. It is currently the main area failing to comply with the legally binding limits set by the EU. Pollution can build up in London when it becomes trapped between buildings,or in the local area more generally, especially during still weather.

Ozone pollution in spring and summer can also be a problem, but normally in London suburbs rather than the centre, and the highest levels in the UK are found in rural areas. Ozone is often higher in the south-east compared with the rest of the UK.

Within Europe London is the largest city, but we have less pollution than some EU cities because we are on the western edge of the continent and often receive fresh air from the Atlantic. From a global perspective, research from the World Bank shows that air pollution is a major health hazard in developing countries. If we rank the 3,226 cities with a population greater than 100,000 according to their pollution levels, from high to low, London comes 2,516th.


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