THURROCK has been named and shamed by the World Health Organisation for breaching safe levels for air pollution.

Latest data shows that the borough is among nine British towns and cities where the air contains a more-than-safe level of dangerous tiny particulate matter.

Now campaigners are calling on Thurrock Council to do more to tackle the issue.

The Gazette recently reported that Thurrock came out as the fourth worst area outside of London for the number of PM2.5s in the air, which come from diesel fumes.

Jenny Bates, a Friends of the Earth campaigner said: "Air pollution is bringing death and misery to millions of people across the world. Tackling it should be an urgent priority for governments and local authorities.

"Tough measures are needed to tackle the causes of our dirty air, particularly traffic pollution.”

A spokesman for Thurrock Council said: "There is a wide range of initiatives in place to improve air quality in Thurrock, including regularly monitoring and measuring air quality and working to implement the government’s measures for reducing air pollution.

"There are 15 air quality management areas in Thurrock, where pollution levels from roads, industry, and property are measured.

"The figures quoted are from 2011 and have fallen since then, the 2012 figure, for example, was below 18 and the provisional 2013 figure is 19.

"Thurrock is well below the annual mean air quality standard of 40 ug/m-3 for PM10 and not in beach of this health standard anywhere.

"Traffic emissions, especially from heavy goods vehicles, are the major contributor to poor air quality in most of these areas, and each of the management areas have an Air Quality Action Plan."

Other towns and cities to be highlighted by WHO included Birmingham, Chesterfield, Leeds, London, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton and Stoke-on-Trent.