Soot makes Leeds’s air ‘too dangerous to breathe’

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Millions of people living in dozens of British cities, including Leeds, are inhaling air considered too dangerous to breathe by the World Health Organisation, a report has shown.

Out of 51 UK cities and towns listed in an air quality database, 44 fail the WHO’s test for fine sooty particles smaller than 2.5 microns across that have been linked to heart disease and premature death.

Exposure to the particles, known as PM2.5s, should not exceed 10 micrograms per cubic metre of air, according to the health organisation.

But in numerous British population centres annual average levels are higher, sometimes by a significant degree, it is claimed.

Glasgow emerged as one of the most polluted cities, with a PM2.5s concentration of 16 micrograms per cubic metre.

London and Leeds both had 15 micrograms of the particles in every cubic metre-sized parcel of air, Cardiff and Birmingham 14, and Manchester 13.