The City of York Council data revealed the 20 streets with the highest concentrations of nitrogen dioxide – a poisonous gas which can inflame airways and cause other serious health problems.
All of the streets in the top 20 well exceed the annual hourly limit of exposure of 40 microgrammes per metre cubed.
The highest average nitrogen dioxide levels were measured under the York railway station canopy at 65.3m3, followed by Gillygate at 55.2m3, the junction at Micklegate and Bridge Street at 54.7m3, Rougier Street at 54.2m3 and Bootham (pictured below) at 52.3m3.
The cause of high nitrogen dioxide concentrations are traffic omissions, primarily from diesel vehicles such as buses, experts have said.
Dr James Lee, an atmospheric chemist working at the University of York’s Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories, said: “At very high levels nitrogen dioxide inflames airways and can cause things like asthma. In the long term, if you are exposed to levels above 40m3 for the whole year it can affect your lung function and could decrease life expectancy. Promoted stories Recommended by
“York’s streets are very narrow, the pollution can be trapped in by the buildings.”
Dr Lee said the key to reducing levels would be to have fewer vehicles on the streets and vehicles with lower emissions.
Other highly polluted streets according to the readings from last year include Blossom Street (pictured below), George Hudson Street, Holgate Road, Lawrence Street, Barbican Road and Paragon Street.
The challenge of tackling air pollution is “one of the city’s greatest challenges”, Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member for environmental services at York said.
He said: “York is at the forefront of reducing emissions through the introduction of innovative measures to help reduce emissions. These include introducing electric buses, taxis and electric charging points. I am reviewing these and other measures in York’s third Air Quality Action Plan, which will be taken to a decision session for approval in November. The key issue is to respond to the challenge with a clear plan, based on scientific assessment, and which is fully explained to the public.”
He said the council has also introduced a Low Emission Strategy which was introduced in 2012 and other measures including converting buses.
Cllr Andy D’Agorne, leader of the Green Party, said: “There’s no one magic bullet solution but it’s a scandal that individual health is being sacrificed for lack of decisive action. As a minimum, station taxis and buses at Rougier St should be switching off their engines while waiting in such pollution blackspots. Other UK cities have on the spot fines for offenders eg Edinburgh but the only action in York has been the promotion of more low emission vehicles – that is good but not enough.”
City of York Council has a legal duty to to address poor air quality however the road running under the canopy is the responsibility of the station which is run by Network Rail and Virgin Trains East Coast.
A spokesperson for Virgin Trains East Coast said: “The station is in an area of the city which deals with a substantial volume of road traffic and congestion each day. We are supporting the City of York Council’s Local Transport Plan to improve air quality and enhance access to the station for emission-free cycling and walking. For example, we’ve invested in 400 new secure cycle spaces at the station, but we have also instruct taxis drivers to switch off their engines while under the station portico.”
Nitrogen dioxide is one of the key air pollutants in York to be measured by the Public Protection Team for City of York Council. The council said it also measures particulates, the levels of which meet objectives in York.
Areas with highest levels of pollution (including nitrogen dioxide average reading)
1. Under York Railway Station Canopy 65.3
2. Gillygate 55.2
3. Bridge St / Micklegate junction 54.7
4. Rougier Street (Roadside near junction with Tanner Moat) 54.2
5. Bootham 52.3
6. Blossom Street 52.2
7. George Hudson Street 52.0
8. Holgate Road 51.3
9. Rougier Street (bus stop outside Society) 49.2
10. Lawrence Street 48.4
11. Barbican Road 48.3
12. Paragon Street 47.9
13. Coppergate 47.0
14. Nessgate / Clifford Street junction 46.1
15. Fishergate 45.2
16. The Mount 44.3
17. St Leonards Place 43.9
18. Prices Lane 43.3 Share article
19. The Stonebow 42.9
20. Lord Mayors Walk 42.6