AIR pollution is still causing hundreds of deaths in the region as illegal levels are set to affect people lives for a few more years yet.

Analysis by Friends of the Earth of the government’s new air pollution modelling reveals that five local authorities in the North East would still have illegal levels of air pollution in 2019, without further action being taken. Middlesbrough would still have missed the target by 2022.

Rob Tucker, Friends of the Earth Middlesbrough and Redcar campaigner said: “It is pathetic that successive governments have failed to take on air pollution and have condemned people from Gateshead to Middlesbrough to worsened asthma, heart disease, and early death.

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“My wife has asthma. We could smell and taste the pollution and the sting on our eyes after just 15 minutes of putting air quality testers into place at pollution hotspots.”

The data shows that local authority areas facing illegal air pollution levels in the North East are Sunderland until 2018; North Tyneside until 2019; South Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead and Middlesbrough until 2022.