GREATER Manchester should consider introducing a congestion zone to reduce the “invisible killer” of air pollution, according to a new report.

Up to three million years of life could be lost by people dying early in the region in the next century if the problem of toxic air is not tackled, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) North study shows.

The region has a similar air pollution problem to London, caused mostly by vehicle emissions, but lacks the powers and strategies to tackle it, the IPPR report said.

It calls on the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham to consider a London-style congestion zone charge to help keep the air clean.

Sarah Longlands, director of IPPR North, said: “The human cost of this air pollution crisis to Greater Manchester cannot be overstated.

“People’s lives are being cut short, our children’s health is being put at risk and this is before you even consider the £1 billion annual economic burden that poor quality air places on the local economy.

“For too long, the debate on air pollution has been focused on London. But now for the first time, we understand the full extent of the problem in Greater Manchester.

“We simply cannot allow this to continue. There must be no delay.”

The report comes ahead of the National Clean Air Summit next week, hosted in London by the Mayor Sadiq Khan with representatives from other major cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Cardiff.

The IPPR report, called Atmosphere: Towards A Proper Strategy For Tackling Greater Manchester’s Air Pollution, sets out the human and economic cost of air pollution, using new analysis from global experts at King’s College London.

On public transport, Greater Manchester has one of the worst polluting bus fleets of any city in the UK, with only 15 electric buses - while the capital has more than 500.

Greater Manchester has the highest rates of emergency admissions to hospital for asthma in the whole country, double the national average, while Manchester ranks as the second worst council in England for “PM10” pollution, pollutants from exhausts fumes and construction, which are linked to conditions such as lung cancer and asthma.