These are the most polluted places in the South

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London, Norwich and Plymouth are among the locations with the highest pollution levels in the South of England, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Plymouth was reported to have 12 micrograms of air pollution per cubic metre, while London and Norwich has 11. Anything exceeding 10 micrograms is considered to be unsafe.

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Pollution levels in Brighton, Bristol, Eastbourne, Oxford, Portsmouth and Southampton have hit the limit of 10 micrograms per cubic metre, according to the data.

High pollution levels are concerning, as they can cause diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory infections, and shorten lifespans. Pollution is estimated to cause around 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK.

The UK's most polluted places

Close to 50 cities and towns around the UK have either reached or exceeded WHO's air pollution limits.

Port Talbot in Wales tops the list of the UK's most polluted locations. The town's pollution levels measured in at 18 micrograms per cubic metre.

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Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire and Salford in Greater Manchester also had extremely high levels of air pollution, with 15 micrograms per cubic metre. Not much further down the rankings, the air quality in Manchester and Swansea contained 13 or more micrograms of pollution.

Manchester is among the most polluted cities in the UK (Photo: Shutterstock)

Fifteen areas - including Armagh in Northern Ireland, Birmingham and Newport - have reached the pollution limit of 10 micrograms per cubic metre.

Locations where pollution levels have fallen

While pollution levels have risen in many areas, some cities and town have seen a significant decrease in recent years.

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For instance, in 2017 it was reported that Glasgow's pollution levels were at 16 micrograms per cubic metre of air - higher than in both London and Leeds. The most recent data shows that Glasgow now has fewer than 10 micrograms of air pollution, removing the Scottish city from the concern lists entirely.

In London, air pollution fell from 17 micrograms in 2013 to 11 in 2015. During the same time frame, Sheffield saw its pollution levels fall from 17 micrograms to 12.

UK locations exceeding the pollution limit of 10 micrograms per cubic metre

Port Talbot - 18 micrograms per cubic metreScunthorpe - 15Salford - 15Thurrock - 14Manchester - 13Swansea - 13Gillingham - 13Carlisle - 12Chepstow - 12Leeds - 12Leicester - 12Liverpool - 12Grays - 12Eccles - 12Nottingham - 12Plymouth - 12York - 12Prestonpans - 12Royal Leamington Spa - 12Sandy - 12Sheffield - 12Stoke-On-Trent - 12London - 11Coventry - 11Hull - 11Londonderry - 11Middlesbrough - 11Norwich - 11Southend-On-Sea - 11Stockton-On-Tees - 11Storrington - 11Wigan - 11

The 15 towns that are at the limit

Armagh - 10 micrograms per cubic metreBirmingham - 10Brighton - 10Bristol - 10Cardiff - 10Eastbourne - 10Harlington - 10Newcastle - 10Newport - 10Oxford - 10Portsmouth - 10Preston - 10Saltash - 10Southampton - 10Stanford-Le-Hope - 10

Main image: Shutterstock