AN investigation into air pollution has discovered that nitrogen dioxide levels in Widnes are among the worst in the UK.

A study of 146 government-run monitoring stations shows 26 are recording nitrogen dioxide levels that breach European Union legislation and World Health Organisation guidelines.

This is the highest number in breach of guidelines in the past decade, according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

A monitoring station in Widnes recorded an annual average nitrogen dioxide reading of 42µg/m³ so far in 2017 - that's compared with the EU legal limit of 40µg/m³.

Demands for a crackdown on diesel vehicles have intensified after the Times investigation found a rise in the number of communities blighted by toxic air.

Halton Council has reassured residents not to worry.

A council spokesman said: "The council has spent many years successfully addressing the issue of air quality and pollution.

“The purpose of this is to ensure that air quality in Halton meets UK and European guidance on what are considered to be acceptable levels. The council has to report air quality activity regularly to central government which checks the report has been carried out correctly.

“People should be reassured that, despite its industrial past, the council works hard to ensure good air quality and over the years has found only two small localised areas where nitrogen dioxide concentrations breach guidelines due to traffic levels.

“The same monitors indicate that particulate levels are well within guidelines. Where there are breaches, these are minimal and strategies put in place over recent years appear to be successful as there are clear indications that levels are falling.

"Halton Council takes the issue of air quality seriously and continually strives to ensure air quality in Halton is as good as it can be.”

The council says that levels of pollution in parts of Manchester are more than 50 per cent greater than those recorded in Halton and in Kensington and Chelsea, levels of pollutants can be nearly twice that experienced in Halton.

Visit to read more about the investigation.