Edinburgh's St John's Road is Scotland's most polluted street

Scotland's most dangerously polluted streets have been named by environmentalists.

St John's Road is Scotland's most polluted street. Picture: HEMEDIA
St John's Road is Scotland's most polluted street. Picture: HEMEDIA

Official data shows levels of toxic fumes on key routes in Scottish cities far exceed legal safety standards. Campaigners who compiled the list say governments are not taking the problem seriously enough.

The report has come just hours after the World Health Organisation warned that air pollution, which is estimated to cause 3.3 million premature deaths globally every year, is a “public health emergency”. Around 2,000 Scots die annually as a result.

Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES) analysed official records for two harmful pollutants – nitrogen dioxide and coarse particles – known to be linked with serious health problems, including heart attacks, strokes and asthma.

Edinburgh’s St John’s Road was revealed as the most polluted street, followed by Hope Street in Glasgow.

The list shows many roads are breaching safety standards and comes as the Scottish Government faces legal action over its perceived failure to tackle the problem.

FoES campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “Streets are breaking legal limits in each major city in Scotland, demonstrating just how serious and widespread Scotland’s air pollution health crisis is.”

Ms Hanna said Scotland’s new clean-air strategy, published in November, has “good aspirations” but bigger efforts are needed.

“The government must support local authorities with funding to implement low-emission zones in all major cities,” she said.


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FoES has called for a portion of the country’s motorways budget to be spent on active travel in the next budget.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Although there has been excellent progress, we recognise that there is more to be done to deliver further benefits for human and environmental health where areas of poorer air quality remain.”

She said £3m had been allocated to local authorities to help improve air quality.

The results for 2015:


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Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

Top 8 most polluted streets for nitrogen dioxide in 2015.

Figures in microgrammes per cubic metre (μg/m3), European legal limit 40 (annual mean)

Edinburgh St John’s Road - 65


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Glasgow Hope Street - 60

Dundee Seagate - 50

Perth Atholl Street - 48

Dundee Lochee Road - 48


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Aberdeen Union Street - 46

Edinburgh Queensferry Road - 41

Aberdeen Wellington Road - 41