AN ESTIMATED 191 people died in a single year because of air pollution in Bradford.

And more than one in 24 deaths in Yorkshire’s largest cities and towns are related to long term exposure to air pollution, according to new estimates in Centre for Cities’ annual study of the UK’s major urban areas, Cities Outlook 2020.

It says that is 21 times the regional rate of deaths from traffic accidents.

The deadly toxin PM2.5 was related to 4.3% of deaths of people over the age of 25 in Bradford in 2017.

The highest proportion in Yorkshire is in Hull, with the data linking it to 128 deaths in just one year, or 4.9% of all adult deaths in the city, according to the data. In total, an estimated 1,514 people were killed by PM2.5-related deaths in Yorkshire’s large cities and towns in one year.

Centre for Cities says these levels of PM2.5 are legal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, despite breaking the World Health Organisation’s air pollution guidelines.

Transport is a significant, but not sole contributor to air pollution; burning fuels is also a major cause. For example, half of deadly PM2.5 toxins generated in cities and large towns come from sources such as wood burning stoves and coal fires. Not all of it is locally generated – some in the south of England is blown in from continental Europe.

Half of local authority leaders polled by Centre for Cities highlighted the environment as a major concern, but progress has been slow and the organisation says they must do more to prevent more avoidable deaths from air pollution and should:

• Introduce Ultra Low Emission Zones to charge car and van drivers in city centres.

• Ban the use of wood burning stoves and coal fires in areas where air pollution exceeds guidelines.

Meanwhile, it says the UK Government should do more to help politicians in Yorkshire act. It should:

• Adopt the WHO’s stricter guidelines on PM2.5 – as the Scottish Government has already done – and make a legally binding commitment to meet this by 2030 at the latest.

• Triple the size of the Clean Air Fund to £660 million to help cities fight air pollution.

• Provide financial incentives for cities to improve air quality through the establishment of an Environmental Impact Bond.

• Make securing plans with the EU to tackle cross border air pollution a key component of the future relationship.

Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said: “More than half of people in the UK live in cities and large towns. And while they offer people good employment and lifestyle opportunities Cities Outlook 2020 shows that they also having a damaging effect on their health, with air pollution killing thousands of people living in cities every year.

“Politicians often talk tough on addressing air pollution but we need to see more action. People in Yorkshire should be at the centre of the fight against its toxic air and councils should take the steps needed, including charging people to drive in city centres and banning wood burning stoves.”

“To help the Government needs to provide Yorkshire’s councils with extra money and introduce stricter guidelines. The deadly levels of polluted air in Yorkshire are entirely legal. This needs to change. As a matter of urgency the Government should adopt WHO’s stricter guidelines around PM2.5 emissions. Failure to act now will lead to more deaths in Yorkshire.”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for Healthy People and Healthy Places, said: “We absolutely recognise the seriousness of poor air quality. Quite literally it costs lives. Improving the air quality of the district is therefore a major priority for the Council.

“This is why we are working closely with the Government to put in place a wide range of interventions to reduce pollution in the shortest possible time.

“These plans are being shaped by the responses we have received from local residents and business after an initial consultation and we will be consulting further about proposals for a Clean Air Zone in the near future. The implementation of any plan will be heavily dependent on how much money Government grants Bradford for this purpose.”

“Air pollution is everyone’s responsibility and we all need to understand how we can make better choices and how the Council can support individuals to do this.”

Along with 28 other local authorities across the country, Bradford Council has been instructed by the Government to develop a plan which assesses a range of interventions to reduce pollution in the shortest possible time.

Anna Watson from Clean Air Bradford said: “It’s truly shocking that particulate air pollution killed 191 people in Bradford last year. The most recent science shows this pollution is stunting the growth of our children too. A major source of this pollution is road traffic, yet Bradford Council are intent on making this problem worse by splurging tens of millions of pounds on widening Canal Road and other Bradford roads, bringing yet more traffic past our local schools.

“Instead, Bradford Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority should invest this money in public transport, safe school streets, walking and cycling and reducing the need to travel. These solutions will slash air pollution, save lives, improve children’s health and help tackle the climate change emergency.”