Unexpected Manchester city centre street named ‘one of the most polluted’ in the UK

Not exactly a title to shout about with pride.

Clementine Hall Clementine Hall - 11th December 2023

A new fieldwork study has revealed the worst air polluted city centre streets in the UK, and a popular Manchester thoroughfare has been named one of the worst.

Except, it’s really not the street you’d expect it to be.

For some bizarre reason, despite the fact it’s a pedestrianised commercial shopping street in the heart of Manchester city centre, Market Street has been named one of the most polluted streets in the country.

Recordings were taken at high streets in the 25 largest towns and cities in the country over a two-week period, and the results found that 76% are exceeding the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended annual level of air pollution, The Hoot reports.

The study enlisted a planning consultancy to collect samples using an air quality monitoring device at 11am on either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday to ensure as much comparability as possible between the locations.

Market Street has been named one of the ‘most polluted’ streets in the UK / David Dixon (via Geograph)

The study comes after a poll of 2,000 adults found that 36% have concerns over the health of the community due to air pollution, or the health of their family (26%) or themselves (25%).

Speaking on the shocking findings from the new study, Sam Clarke, who is the chief vehicle officer at the sustainable energy business, said: “With millions set to hit the high street this festive period, we wanted to look at the state of the nation’s air quality in the locations people will be doing most of their Christmas shopping.


“It’s shocking to see that so many were above the World Health Organisation’s annual recommendations for air pollution, and that one in 10 shoppers are even planning on foregoing the highstreets altogether due to air quality.”

20 streets in the UK were over the recommended World Health Organisation recommended levels of 5 µg/m3).

The Most-Polluted Streets in the UK

  1. Stoke-On-Trent (Parliament Street) – 11.7
  2. Newcastle (Northumberland Street) – 11.5
  3. Leicester (Gallowtree Gate) – 11.2
  4. Coventry (West Orchards Way) – 11.1
  5. Hull (Jameston Street) – 10.7
  6. Bradford (Broadway) – 10.6
  7. Southampton (Above Bar Street) – 8.8
  8. Nottingham (High Street) – 7.7
  9. Luton (George Street) – 7.6
  10. Manchester (Market Street) – 7.6
  11. Northampton (Abington Street) – 7.3
  12. Birmingham New Street – 7.3
  13. Liverpool (Church Street) – 7.1
  14. Derby (St Peter’s Street) – 6.9
  15. London (Oxford Street) – 6.8
  16. Sheffield (Fargate) – 6.3
  17. Brighton (Western Road) – 5.6
  18. Leeds (Briggate) – 5.3
  19. Portsmouth (Commercial Road) – 5.1

“If we’re to reach the World Health Organisation’s annual target of 5 µg/m3 of PM2.5 in our air, collectively we need to change our behaviours,” Sam Clarke added.


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“With vehicle emissions being a key contributor, anything we can do to travel more greenly, from walking more to cycling, and including electric vehicles, is a very valuable set forward to improve the air we breathe daily.”

Featured Image – Matt Taylor (via Flickr)