Local authorities need to do more to protect people from harmful air pollution, health officials have said after new estimates suggest that thousands die every year as a result of poor air quality.

Long-term exposure to air pollution led to around 25,000 deaths in England in 2010, Public Health England (PHE) said.

The highest number of deaths were recorded in the south east of England where 4,034 deaths in people over the age of 25 were attributable to air pollution.

There were 3,389 deaths in London linked to poor air quality.

Other parts of England had between 2,000 and 3,000 deaths attributable to air pollution apart from the north east, where 1,199 deaths were associated with air pollution.

Last week, Essex suffered high levels of air pollution from a combination of smog and Sahara dust. 

Essex Weather Centre reported pollution levels of ten, the highest possible score on the measurement scale, for 48 hours on Wednesday and Thursday last week. 

Air pollution in Essex was measured as higher than Los Angeles and Beijing.