The initiative sets standards for air pollution throughout the country to be met by 2010, with a longer deadline for London because of its greater pollution problem. Targets are 50% tighter than the Government's current Air Quality Strategy objective, aimed at cutting carbon monoxide, benzene and for the first time, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Experts suggest cleaning up the air we breath could increase the life expectancy of more than one million people by up to six months.
Meacher said: 'Air quality is getting better. Levels of most pollutants have fallen considerably over the past few years through measures to cut emissions from industry and traffic.
'But the latest health evidence shows we can not afford to be complacent.
'Further action is needed to cut pollution levels, in particular in our congested towns and cities.
'In order to do it, local authorities could be strongly pressed down the road of congestion charges in some cases.'