Big Issue Vendor

Here’s how to check air pollution levels at your address

A new interactive tool gives a free air pollution report for every address in the UK
The database creator wants estate agents to start warning renters and buyers about air pollution health risks. Image: Central Office of Public Interest

Air pollution is one of the most serious challenges facing Brits in the fight to clean up our planet. Nearly eight million households in the UK live with unsafe air, according to new research, and parents groups and campaigners are becoming more vocal in demanding action from local leaders.

Now you can check how toxic the air is where you live just by entering your postcode to access a free air quality report.

The interactive tool, created by campaign group the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) and previously limited to London, holds air pollution figures for every address in the UK. 

The most polluted address on the map is London’s Harley Street, between Oxford Circus and Regent’s Park, where all homes are given a ‘very high’ rating. 

Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.

Homes in the HU7 4 postcode, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, is ranked bottom of the pollution scale.

Dirty air leads to around 40,000 deaths per year, Greenpeace said, and hits disadvantaged areas the hardest. Nearly half of the most deprived areas in London record air pollution well over EU legal limits, compared to just two per cent of the wealthiest parts of the city.

Air pollution affects everyone. It is a dangerous, invisible killer,” said Humphrey Milles, founder of COPI, said. 

The new database tells users if their area has low, medium, significant or very high levels of toxic air. 

An address with a low rating means pollutants are at least 80 per cent below World Health Organisation limits. A very high rating is given to areas where all types of toxic air particles are above the limit and one is at least 20 per cent too high.

Last year South London’s Ella Kissi-Debrah became the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death.

A coroner ruled that the nine-year-old, who died in 2013, was consistently exposed to high levels of pollutants which both caused and exacerbated her severe asthma. She lived just 25 metres from the busy South Circular in Lewisham.

This UK map
air pollution map
Harley Street in London is the UK's most polluted address. Map: Central Office of Public Interest

With the new research showing air pollution exceeding the legal limit at one in four UK homes, Milles wants property websites to include pollution information in advertisements. COPI said it had received a legal opinion that estate agents could be acting illegally without letting potential buyers or renters know about the health risks of significantly toxic air in the area.

“It would be shameful for the property industry to not start acting in an honest, transparent way,” Milles added. Lives depend on it. Everyone has a right to know what they’re breathing.”

Toxic air increased Covid-19 deaths by 15 per cent worldwide, according to research published last year.

“Air pollution is information all consumers should be aware of, before they make a decision on a specific property,” said Rebecca Marsh, Property Ombudsman.

“Arguably, this is material information that all sellers or landlords should be providing to potential buyers or tenants.”