A busy road through a west Dorset community has been named as a pollution hotspot which breaches air quality limits.

The A35 Main Street in Chideock makes a top 10 of locations in the south west which campaign group Friends of the Earth claim have breached the annual Air Quality Objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels, which is set to protect health.

Main Street, Chideock, recorded the ninth highest NO2 level in the region with 58.9ug/m3 – well above the limit of 40ug/m3 set in the Objective.

Highest in the region was Quay Road in Tideford, near Saltash, Cornwall with 73.6ug/m3.

High levels of NO2 can cause a flare up of asthma or symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing. A leading cause of NO2 pollution is emissions from road traffic.

With toxic air above limits affecting huge swathes of the UK, Friends of the Earth is campaigning for Clean Air Zones to be rolled out in far more places than are currently being planned, supported by measures such as improved infrastructure to support safe cycling and walking.

Mike Birkin, South West campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “It’s unforgivable to see so many locations across the region over air quality limits, leaving thousands of us breathing dangerously polluted air.

“The government needs to step up and do more to deal with this air pollution crisis – they can’t just carry on leaving the difficult decisions with local authorities, many of which are severely under-resourced.”

Highways England looks after the A35.

Head of Environment Ivan Le Fevre, said: “We aim to deliver £100m of investment through to end March 2021, as set out in the Government’s Road Investment Strategy, to better understand the issue of air quality on our motorways and major A roads and to deliver improved air quality. We are already establishing a network of approximately 50 automatic air quality stations to measure nitrogen dioxide across our road network in England to help improve our knowledge of air quality and allow us to evaluate the impact of our solutions including any new technologies.

South West locations ranked by annual average level of NO2 (in ug/m3):

1. Quay Road, Tideford – 73.6

2. A37 Temple Cloud, Bath & NE Somerset – 67

3. A38, Dean Prior, South Hams – 66.3

4. Ashley Road St. Pauls, Bristol – 65.1

5. St Thomas Road, Launceston – 62.4

6. Air Balloon roundabout, near Birdlip, Cotswold – 61.4

7. Newfoundland Way, Bristol – 61.2

8. East Wonford Hill, Exeter – 59

9. Chideock Main Street, West Dorset – 58.9

10. Mill Road, Tideford, Cornwall – 58.8