Friends of the Earth Scotland director, Dr Richard Dixon, warned people not to be fooled by how close Rutherglen was to the Scottish objective.
He told the Reformer: “Although it just missed the target, these standards are set to protect human health so and this is above what we would want.”
Dr Dixon said the results also suggested the M74 wasn’t having the desired affect on pollution.
He said: “Our view has always been if you build a new, bigger road, people who use that bigger road will start using other routes when that road becomes busy.
“Maybe for a few years it will bring some relief but eventually we will go back to what we had.”
Friends of the Earth released the data at the weekend. It revealed Hope Street in Glasgow was the worst in Scotland for nitrogen dioxide pollution. Rutherglen recorded 39 microgrammes per cubic meter, below the EU directive of 40.
The group say more must be done to promote alternative methods of transport to relieve traffic congestion.
Rutherglen MSP James Kelly said a better public transport network was needed to combat pollution.
He said bus services had been reduced and even withdrawn in the area over the past few years: “More has to be done to reduce pollution levels.
“The main priority has to be getting more people on to public transport by encouraging them to use rail and bus services. But we also have to ensure there are adequate services in the area. There have been recent service withdrawals of bus services and that doesn’t help.”
A spokesperson for South Lanarkshire Council said they monitor pollution levels at seven sites throughout the region and that air quality was reviewed regularly
They added: “We have been working, with the aid of Scottish Government grants, to put measures in place that can help improve air quality for current and future generations. By investing in an electrical charging infrastructure the transition to electric cars for those who choose to opt for electric or hybrid cars now or at some point in the future will be that bit easier.
“Improvements have been made to existing cycle tracks to make cycling a real option for commuters. More and more people are choosing their bike over their car for many journeys and they are benefiting both in their finances and in their health.
“Officers from South Lanarkshire undertake a number of vehicle emission and engine idling events throughout the year. During these events we spot check vehicles for their emissions and also check in local areas for engine idling.”