Air quality monitoring will be ramped up in Leigh after nitrogen dioxide levels exceeded legal limits twice in the last three years.
Wigan council wants a second air quality monitoring station (AQM) in the borough as part of wider efforts to tackle air pollution in Greater Manchester.
A new station in Market Place was also suggested after a review of Greater Manchester’s air quality monitoring network found it to be ‘insufficient’.
The council currently uses 90 diffusion tubes to measure pollutant levels in the air across the borough, with four tubes currently located in Leigh.
Currently the average annual limit for nitrogen oxide in the EU is no more than 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air.
But in Leigh, this limit was breached in 2016 and 2017, with readings of 40.1 and 41.2 micrograms respectively. Pollutant levels dropped to 37.9 micrograms in 2018.
A council report says: “Poor air quality has a real and significant effect on people’s health and, according to Public Health England, is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK.
“Long-term exposure to high levels of air pollution is known to contribute to the development of respiratory illnesses, such as asthma or bronchitis, as well as cardiovascular problems, and reduces life expectancy.”
Greater Manchester has 152 stretches of road where nitrogen dioxide concentrations are expected to exceed legal limits beyond 2020.
In 2017, a review was launched by Transport for Greater Manchester with a view of judging the effectiveness of air quality monitoring across the 10 metropolitan boroughs.
The report says: “The review concluded that the continuous monitoring station coverage in Greater Manchester is insufficient to provide a robust set of real-time data to inform the decision-making of the general public and for supporting UK Government and EU obligations.”
Proposed improvements included upgrades to existing stations and new monitoring sites, including Leigh, to fill gaps in coverage.
Mark Tilley, assistant director for infrastructure and regulatory services at Wigan council, said the authority will continue to work with neighbouring Greater Manchester authorities to develop a clean air plan.
“Earlier this year cabinet declared a climate emergency and we remain committed to working with partners and residents to ensure a cleaner, greener and healthier borough,” he added.
“Everyone has a part to play in tackling poor air quality and it’s really important we all contribute if we are to make a difference.”