THURROCK is one the most polluted places in the UK, the most recent figures show.

Air in the borough is teaming with fine particles called PM2.5s, which primarily come from vehicle exhaust fumes and are said to be the most lethal.

In the data compiled by Defra, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Thurrock came out as the fourth worst area outside of London, for the number of PM2.5s in the air, with an average of 13.8 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

Only Slough, Luton and Southampton had a higher number of particles in the air than Thurrock on average.

This most recent data, which is for 2012, has been used by Simon Birkett, the founder of Clean Air in London - whose mission is to significantly improve air quality in London and the surrounding areas - to develop an app for smartphones.

The app estimates that since the start of 2014, eight deaths in Thurrock have been caused by man-made air pollution.

It is thought that air pollution can be a cause of angina, heart attacks, asthma, bronchitis, cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

Mr Birkett said: “Air pollution is one of the causes behind the worldwide ‘tidal wave’ of cancer expected by the World Health Organisation over the next two decades.

“Carcinogenic diesel exhaust needs to be banned from the most-polluted places by 2020 with an intermediate step by 2018.”

The City of London is the most polluted district in the country, with 18.1 micrograms of the fine pollutant in the air, per cubic metre.

The World Health Organisation's guideline is 10 PM2.5s per cubic metre of air and the England average is 12.1, while the Essex average is 12.6.

When told on the Thurrock Gazette’s Facebook page about the borough’s poor air quality, many residents were unhappy.

Joanne Potter said: “We have too many factories and traffic through Thurrock. I believe most people drive, as public transport is often dirty, late and overpriced. The bridge is the worst culprit.”

John Allen said: “One of the worse offenders has got to be the bottleneck on the A282 and the QE2 Bridge. I think the whole environment and infrastructure in Thurrock really should be better managed.”

Rob Lay said: “That is not good and they want to build another bridge, it doesn't make sense.”

The 2011 census revealed that 39.8 per cent of Thurrock residents are reliant on cars or vans to get to work, 4.9 per cent more than the England average and 1.6 per cent more than the Essex average.

Thurrock Council claims it is tackling the problem of air quality in the borough.

In 2011, it won £5million of funding from the government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund for a four year programme aimed at encouraging people to use alternative forms of transport.

It gives residents one-to-on advice, offers cycle training to adults and children to increase their skills and supports businesses by promoting car sharing at work.

A smart phone app called Thurrock Travel has also been developed, providing handy information about bus, train, ferry times and cycle and pedestrian routes of interest.

A spokesman for Thurrock Council said: “This is having an impact on tackling emissions and pollutants by actively involving residents, schools, organisations and businesses in changing behaviour to ensure a cleaner, greener borough.”