GREAT global cities like Delhi and Shanghai have well documented air pollution issues, with dramatic photos often showing their towering skyscrapers shrouded in choking smog.

In the UK, the problem is not so severe – but just because the pollution isn’t visible it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Today, figures show more than eight million children live in areas of the UK with illegal levels of air pollution.

Outside London, Yorkshire and the Humber and the North-East are the worst regions.

The Government says the picture is improving, and it is taking action to cut harmful emissions. But one study this year found that unless further steps are taken, five local authority areas in the North-East will still have illegal levels of air pollution in 2019, with Middlesbrough continuing to miss the target until 2022.

Ideas from Whitehall include a scrappage scheme to get older, more polluting vehicles off the roads, and pressing councils to develop clean air zones with potential measures including redesigning roads, and boosting infrastructure for walking, cycling and electric vehicles.

Such projects would be centrally funded – if they were not, cash-strapped councils facing budgetary challenges would no doubt protest.

A comprehensive clean air strategy is set to be put forward next year, and it remains to be seen what it will include. Environment Secretary Michael Gove set out his stall for a “green Brexit” from almost his first day in the job, so it could contain some fairly radical measures.

It should be published – back by funding – sooner rather than later.

Eight million children living in air-polluted areas are eight million too many.