This website uses cookies for anonymised analytics and for account authentication. See our privacy and cookies policies for more information.

The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

League table shows urban pollution getting worse

This news post is over 9 years old

​Some Scottish streets more polluted despite efforts to restrict vehicles

Pollution on Scotland’s streets is getting worse not better despite concerted attempts to curtail gas guzzling cars from cities and town centres.

And the findings prove the country is falling foul of self-imposed as well as European directives.

Friends of the Earth Scotland looked at figures for two key pollutants, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and “particulate matter”.

When it came to NO2, it found that 13 Scottish sites failed to come below the European legal limit in 2014.

Among the 11 sites in which pollution levels are getting worse are St John's Road and Queensferry Road in Edinburgh, and Whitehall Street in Dundee.

Hope Street in Glasgow remains the country’s worst polluted.

Air pollution is attributed to the deaths of 2,000 people each year in Scotland – costing the NHS £2 billion annually.

Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Yet again, Scotland’s streets are shown to have dangerous levels of toxic pollution which are breaking legal limits that were due to be met in 2010. Pollution levels in our urban areas are showing little sign of improvement with some key streets even more polluted than in 2013.

“Air pollution is responsible for more than 2,000 deaths in Scotland each year and costs the NHS here up to £2 billion annually. The time has come for our polluted air to be treated as the public health crisis it really is.”

LocationCurrent (nitrogen dioxide average over year)Previous (nitrogen dioxide average over year)
1. Hope Street, Glasgow (same) 65 65
2. St John's Road, Edinburgh (increase) 60 57
3. Seagate, Dundee (decrease) 55 58
4. Wellington Road, Aberdeen (decrease) 48 52
5. Lochee Road, Dundee (decrease) 47 50
6. Union Street, Aberdeen (decrease) 46 49
7. Queensferry Road, Edinburgh (increase) 46 45
8. Atholl Street, Perth (decrease) 45 49
9. Whitehall Street, Dundee (increase) 43 41
10. West Bridge Street, Falkirk (increase) 42 39

“Although today’s air pollution is mostly invisible, its impact on our health is crystal clear. Breathing in polluted air increases your chances of having a heart attack, a stroke, or developing cancer.

“Children are also particularly vulnerable, with exposure to air pollution restricting lung development, leading to long-term health problems. It has even been linked with autism in children. It is unjust that children, who are not in any way responsible, are suffering the most.”

The Scottish Government said data released last year shows that between 1990 and 2011 nitrogen dioxide has decreased by 65% and particulates by 58%.

A spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government, working in partnership with Scotland’s 32 local authorities, continues to make progress in improving our air quality.

“Data shows that significant reductions in air pollutants have been achieved since 1990 and further decreases are predicted in the future, given our knowledge of the likely impacts of planned investment.

“Although there has been excellent progress, we recognise that there is more to be done to deliver further benefits for human and environmental health where areas of poorer air quality remain.

“We recognise that air pollution disproportionately affects the health of the most vulnerable members of society - the very young, the elderly and those with existing cardiovascular and respiratory conditions - and can have a very real impact on quality of life for these individuals.

“Following work with a wide range of partners and stakeholders the Scottish Government will launch later this month a consultation on a Low Emission Strategy.

“This will set out the contribution that reduced air pollution can make to delivering sustainable economic growth and enhancing the quality of life for communities across Scotland, with a focus on progress in Scottish towns and cities over the coming years.”