Tourists visiting attractions in London are exposed to air pollution four times the European legal limit, it has been reported.
All of the 50 most polluted locations in the UK are in the capital, including streets outside the toy shop Hamley’s, and Madame Tussauds near Regent’s Park.
The gas, Nitrogen Dioxide (N02), is linked to serious respiratory problems, and around 29,000 people are known to die prematurely every year in the UK from air pollution.
Campaigners are calling for older diesel engines, which mainly produce the gas, to be banned.
The figures released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) under a Freedom of Information Act request by The Telegraph, show that Grosvenor Place, the road alongside Buckingham Palace, harbours the highest levels of NO2 in the whole country.
On average, there are 152 micrograms of NO2 per cubic meter of air on the road, almost four times the European legal limit of 40 micrograms.
Lower Grosvenor Place on the other side of Green Park, which borders the palace, both register NO2 levels more than double the legal limit.
The western end of Oxford Street near Marble Arch, registered an annual average of 150 micrograms per cubic metre of air – the second highest level in the country.
Meanwhile, Cockspur Street near Trafalgar Square has the third-highest level at 138 micrograms.
Those who visit the British Museum, the National Theatre, Covent Garden, and Houses of Parliament are also exposed to high levels of pollution.
Environmental campaigner Simon Birkett, director of Clean Air in London, told the newspaper: “The thought that hundreds of thousands or millions of tourists and Londoners in a year may be exposed to air pollution this high is deeply troubling.”
Mr Birkett suggests that older diesel cars should be banned as they are in central Berlin, Germany.
A spokeswoman for Boris Johnson, mayor of London, told The Telegraph the number of people living in areas where NO2 levels exceeded legal limits had halved since his election in 2008.