Every Londoner is exposed to dangerous toxic air particles
Every area of London is exposed to air pollution beyond WHO standards and 7.9 million Londoners live in areas exceeding air quality guidelines by at least 50 per cent
A new research study, based on the latest updated London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, nearly 95 per cent of the capital’s population – live in areas of London that exceed the guidelines for PM2.5 by 50 per cent or more.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan released the report and signed the capital up to the Breathe Life coalition, a campaign led by WHO, UN Environment and Clean Climate and Clean Air Coalition, to connect similar world cities, combine expertise, share best practice and work together to improve air quality. This global campaign aims to mobilize cities and individuals to protect our health and our planet from the effects of air pollution. The campaign provides a platform for cities to share best practices and demonstrate progress, expand monitoring efforts, accelerate solutions and educate people about the burden air pollution poses to our health and our climate and provide meaningful ways to take action both locally and globally.
PM2.5 are small toxic air particles which are widely acknowledged to have the greatest impact on health with both short and long-term exposure increasing the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Children exposed to these toxic pollutants are more likely to grow up with reduced lung function and develop asthma, while PM2.5 is also known to result in 29,000 premature deaths in the UK every year.
New data, based on updated 2013 exposure estimates, shows that in central London the average annual levels of PM2.5 are almost double the WHO guideline limits of 10 µg/m3.
The Mayor has committed to tackling pollution in London and is determined significantly to reduce the levels of these dangerous toxic particles, aiming to get pollution levels to within WHO guidelines by 2030.
Around half of PM2.5 in London is from external sources outside the city, however, the main sources of PM2.5 emissions in London are from tyre and brake wear, construction and wood burning.
Reducing these emissions and achieving WHO guidelines will require coordinated action by governments and cities around the world and a shift towards walking, cycling and using public transport, as well as new technologies like electric cars.
Sadiq is initiating a package of hard-hitting measures, which will drive down vehicle emissions on the capital’s roads. On 23 October, the Mayor’s new T-Charge comes into force to remove older, more polluting vehicles from central London. Road transport is responsible for around half of Nitrogen Oxide emissions in the capital, and around 88 per cent of these emissions are caused by diesel vehicles.
This research is another damning indictment of the toxic air that all Londoners are forced to breathe every day. It’s sickening to know that not a single area of London meets World Health Organisation health standards, but even worse than that, nearly 95 per cent of the capital is exceeding these guidelines by at least 50 per cent.
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
“I am doing everything in my powers to significantly reduce emissions by introducing the T-Charge to drive down the number of dirty vehicles polluting our roads and our lungs and implementing an Ultra Low Emission Zone with even tighter standards. I also urge the government to devolve powers to me so I can get on with tackling the dangerous toxic air particles – known as PM2.5 – that we know come from construction sites and wood burning stoves. It’s measures like these that we need to get on with now to protect our children and our children’s children”, he added.