• London has a lot on its hand when it comes to air pollution

Air Monitoring

London has a lot on its hand when it comes to air pollution

Jul 06 2012

London is facing a big uphill battle over air quality, after new research found parts of the capital have air pollution three times higher than the European-recommended safe limit.

The government recently filed plans to the European Commission to delay plans for air pollution improvements in 12 UK areas. However, the plans were rejected by the commission, who said that air quality must improve in these areas.

If nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels are not reduced by 2020 - or in the case of London, 2025 - the government is facing hefty fines from regulatory bodies in the European Union. Air pollution has been recognised by the government as being the second biggest public health threat, after smoking, with areas such as London being particularly exposed to high levels of NO2 and other harmful pollutants.

New research, conducted by scientists at King’s College London, found that areas of the capital were well above the European-recommended safe limit, with Putney and Brixton being identified as particularly polluted areas.

Researchers monitored 100 sites around the capital, measuring levels of NO2, which is predominantly caused by traffic fumes and has been linked to increased risk of asthma in children. They also tested for PM10, which is made up of several pollutants and has been linked to breathing and heart problems.

Putney and Brixton were found to be three times over EU limits, with the state of air quality in the capital being generally poor. The researchers found that most sites near busy roads exceeded EU safe limits, and even some more quiet locations recorded dangerous levels. Up to 4,000 deaths in London every year are blamed on poor air quality.

The figures were revealed to the London Assembly, with Murad Qureshi, chairman of the Assembly’s health and environment committee, warning that the relevant authorities are struggling to deal with the crisis.

He said: "The capital has a long way to go before it meets the limits devised to protect people. We heard about a raft of measures designed to tackle pollution but we need to see results now."

Posted by Joseph Hutton

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