REDDITCH residents heading for Bromsgrove or Worcester or down the M5 should take a deep breath before setting out.
The three locations have just been named and shamed in a Friends of the Earth survey of air pollution levels.
Central Birmingham by Moor Street is even worse, say campaigners.
Air pollution – caused mostly by road traffic – is one of the UK’s biggest killers, and is responsible for an estimated 36,000 premature deaths per year.
One of the pollutants caused by road traffic, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), is a toxic gas which inflames the lining of the lung and reduces immunity to lung infections such as bronchitis.
Despite government benchmarks on acceptable levels of pollution, those levels are frequently breached. What’s more, the government has twice lost in court for failing to deal with it.
Redditch, with its new town layout and broad dual carriageways, is omitted from the Friends’ pollution map of Britain, but that is no cause for complacency, said Claire Davies, local leader of the Green Party.
“Redditch is really fortunate as our infrastructure means that we don’t really face the level of congestion, which leads to air pollution, that other towns have,” she said.
“But there is a constant need for imaginative alternatives to the car.”
And she hit out at Worcestershire County Council, the highways authority for Redditch.
“Not everyone has access to a car and some people may feel unsure about how safe it is to use public transport in the current climate.
“If public transport is off the menu and it’s unsafe to cycle or walk, how are people supposed to move around?
“We need a bold vision and they have a complete lack of imagination – they are coming up with 20th Century solutions to a 21st Century problem,” she said.
THE national Air Quality Standards for nitrogen dioxide levels is 40ug/m3.
Using figures for 2018, Friends of the Earth found two spots on Worcester Road in Bromsgrove, the first where it is at 43.98ug/m3 and the second where it is at 43.99ug/m3.
Wychbold on the A38, is right on 40.0ug/m3 while Worcester breaks the air quality standard at numerous locations – 47.3ug/m3 on Bridge Street and 44.0ug/m3 on Foregate Street.
The corner of Moor Street in Birmingham tops the lot at 60ug/m3.