Dangerous levels of pollution in London have been identified in a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which calls for urgent action to prevent illness and death.

The report, called ‘a breath of fresh air: new solutions to reduce transport emissions’, was published January 2018 and found pollution hot spots in the Bakerloo and Victoria lines, which have the highest levels of airborne respirable dust levels.

London’s commuters are most at risk during the morning rush hour, with the concentration of pollutants 13 – 43 per cent higher than during afternoon or evening peaks.

Philippa Oldham, lead author of the report and Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “London is currently ranked as 15th out of 36 major global cities in terms of overall air quality, lagging behind other European cities such as Berlin and Vienna.

“The capital needs to prioritise this issue and create a modern Clean Air Act that takes a holistic approach; it must not just target individual sectors but encourage everyone to play a role in reducing emissions.”

NOx levels at Paddington station were found to be in breach of European limits regarding nitrogen dioxide for outdoor air quality, and the report asked the Government to work with Network Rail to deliver complete electrification of Britain’s main rail lines.

Currently, up to 70 per cent of trains passing through the station are powered by diesel engines that are exempt from regulations for modern diesel trains.

The impact and level of poor air quality is not well understood, the report suggested introducing a national scheme to monitor emissions from different modes of transport so that targets can be set.