Dundee’s busiest streets are among the most polluted in Scotland, new figures have revealed.
Four popular city roads are so highly polluted with nitrogen dioxide that they break European law, according to Friends of the Earth.
Seagate, Lochee Road, Meadowside and Whitehall Street all have some of the highest readings in Scotland for the key pollutant, which can contribute to heart and lung diseases, as well as asthma.
Two thousand Scots die from the effects of such pollution each year, according to the organisation, who are calling for action to stop the potentially deadly problem.
Friends of the Earth Scotland air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “A number of busy streets are recording high levels of pollution and are on track to break legal limits for 2014.
“It is disappointing to see continued high levels, especially because Scotland and the UK have been called up by European courts for its slow progress on cleaning up the air.
“These delays see the prospect of clean air slipping over the horizon for people living in Scottish towns and cities. These delays mean there is no end in sight for the thousands of Scots who suffer from air pollution.
“It aggravates asthma, and can cause heart disease, strokes and lung cancer.”
“We know that over 2,000 Scots die from the effects of air pollution each year, so these delays in meeting clean air standards mean even more unnecessary death and suffering.”
Ms Hanna also said that the rising levels of air pollution, which is shown in figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), could provide a double-whammy of financial costs, as well as human suffering.
“Scotland is breaking European laws on air pollution,” she said. “Under EU rules, Europe could eventually impose hefty fines on the UK and Scotland if it fails to clean up its act.
“The public should not have to cough up the money to pay for the Government’s continued inaction.
“The public may have to pay out twice for air pollution: once for health care of those affected and then again through EU fines for government’s failure to act.
“The Scottish Government has thus far proved itself unwilling to take the steps necessary to tackle this public health crisis.
“It has been hoping for improvements in vehicle technology to solve the problem but it should be proactive in cutting traffic levels by halting new unnecessary road developments, investing more in walking and cycling, and improving public transport.
“The health impacts of air pollution are clear, the Government’s strategy is not. For the sake of people’s lives and wellbeing, air pollution needs to be tackled as an urgent priority.
“We cannot afford to wait any longer,” she added.
The Scottish Government defended its role in trying to cut air pollution.
“These revised projections from Defra are very disappointing as previous projections suggested that all parts of Scotland would comply with legal limits for nitrogen dioxide pollution from traffic within the next couple of years,” said a Scottish Government spokeswoman.
Craig Melville, convener of Dundee City Council’s environment committee, also defended the city council’s work to improve air quality.
He said: “We are continuing to work towards improving local air quality through implementing the measures contained in our air quality action plan.”
The analysis follows the recent revelation before European judges that Scotland will not meet air pollution limits until 2020 in Edinburgh, Central Scotland and North East Scotland and 2025 in Glasgow.