Air pollution could kill up to 1,400 people a year in South Yorkshire, a new report has revealed.
Public Health England says there were an estimated 698 deaths caused by poor air quality across the county in 2010 – but the real mortality rate could be double that figure.
The report says in Sheffield 269 residents died because of air pollution, which is linked to heart and lung diseases.
In Barnsley there were 124 deaths, in Rotherham 145, and in Doncaster 160.
Across the region that equates to over 7,000 lost years of life, the report adds.
Charity Friends of the Earth has called the number of deaths ‘outrageous’, while public health chiefs have called for more schemes to encourage eco-friendly forms of transport, such as walking and cycling.
Last week air pollution hit unusually high levels in Sheffield as a cloud of dust blown from the Sahara desert mixed with fumes from traffic and power stations.
At its worst the monitoring station at Devonshire Green in the city centre showed a measurement of eight on a scale of 10 used to gauge pollution.
Sheffield Council has recently carried out a study into air quality, looking at which types of traffic emit the most fumes.
A long-term plan is also on the cards to help cyclists travel more easily.
Dr Paul Cosford, Public Health England’s medical director, said: “Policies that encourage a shift from motorised transport to walking and cycling would be expected to reduce total vehicle emissions.
“Local authorities could also consider other measures, such as implementing low-emission strategies as well as the appropriate design of green spaces.”
Nationally, long-term exposure to air pollution led to 25,000 deaths in 2010.