AIR pollution in south Essex is dangerously high and among the worst in the UK.

New figures revealed four areas exceed World Health Organisation limits.

Southend, Grays, Stanford-Le-Hope and Thurrock, as a whole, have up to, or more than, ten micrograms per cubic metre of dangerous pollutant material in the air.

Southend was measured to have 11, Grays 12 and Thurrock at 14, with Stanford-le-Hope on the limit of ten.

This level of pollution poses a particular risk to those who have suffered a stroke or are suffering heart disease, lung conditions and respiratory infections.

Dr Marimuthu Velmurugan, 79, who works at the Valkyrie Surgery in Westcliff, said: “I believe more needs to be done, both by the council and residents to take preventative measures against this turning into a health crisis.

“People can help themselves by not smoking, but the local authority also needs to improve the flow of traffic and vehicle efficiency to reduce pollutants.

“The sea air can help the problem, but it can only go so far.

“Air pollution like this can lead to conditions such as bronchitis or asthma, and may eventually lead to a strain on doctors and hospital staff.”

The leading causes of pollutants include transport, industry, and burning materials.

Matt Jackson, vice chairman for the Thames Crossing Action Group, said: “Combined traffic on the M25 and the Lower Thames Crossing would amount to around 250,000 vehicles crossing Thurrock a day by 2026 - it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what that will do to our air quality,

“That is compounded by the destruction of the very lungs of Thurrock, the green belt that is unable to cope with even cleansing today’s air, let alone in ten years time with 100,00 more vehicles and less green belt to filter tail pipe emissions.”

Carl Robinson, director of public protection at Southend Council, claimed the problem was in certain areas.

He said: “While air quality in Southend is generally good as with many towns and cities there are problems emerging around some traffic pinch-points, such as the Bell junction, which we are working hard to address.

“Emerging key areas of priority will be to assess the impact of the Kent Elms and proposed A127 Bell junction works, and develop a low emission air quality strategy, along with ongoing work to promote more sustainable forms of travel, such as walking, cycling, buses and trains.

“However, how we get to work, how we get the children to school, how we travel to key services such as hospitals and doctors all contribute to the borough’s air quality, so we will need the close collaboration and support of businesses, public service providers as well as individual residents.”