Annual heart attack and stroke deaths related to air pollution in the UK could exceed 160,000 by 2030.

That’s the suggestion from the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which predicts harmful particulate matter in the air will cause a surge in associated illnesses unless the new government “takes bold action”.

A figure of 160,000 deaths a year is equivalent to more than 40 every day.

The charity says air pollution presents a ‘major public health emergency’ and stresses World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on pollution must be adopted into UK law and delivered by 2030 – they are more stringent than EU law currently dictates.

The organisation suggests air pollution can make existing heart conditions worse, increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke and lead to toxic particles building up inside the body.

Jacob West, Executive Director of Healthcare Innovation at the BHF, said: “Every day, millions of us across the country are inhaling toxic particles which enter our blood and get stuck in our organs, raising our risk of heart attacks and stroke.

“Make no mistake – our toxic air is a public health emergency and we haven’t done enough to tackle this threat to our society.”