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Tuesday, 28 November 2017 14:32

Every Londoner is exposed to dangerous toxic air particles

The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has released research and a map showing every area of London exceeds recommended guidelines for PM2.5. The damning report also reveals 7.9 million Londoners live in areas exceeding World Health Organisation air quality guidelines by at least 50 per cent.

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The research, based on the latest updated London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, also shows that 7.9 million Londoners – nearly 95 per cent of the capital's population – live in areas of London that exceed the guidelines by 50 per cent or more.

The Mayor released the damning report as he delivered a keynote speech at the 'Every Journey, Every Child' Conference at City Hall and signed the capital up to the Breathe Life coalition organised 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.

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 according to a report by the government's Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) 2010.

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.

air quality protest1web copyThe Mayor states he is is committed to tackling pollution in London and 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.

WOOD BURNING AND TYRE WEAR
Sadiq Khan is calling on the government to devolve powers to him to allow City Hall to tackle emissions from construction sites and wood burning. He also wants to reduce emissions from wood burning through improved education about the types of fuel that should be used and when they should be used. He also wants a stricter set of emission standards on future sales of wood burning stoves to tackle this source of pollution.

On 23 October, the Mayor's new T-Charge came into force to remove older, more polluting vehicles from central London. Road transport is responsible for around half of NOx emissions in the capital, and around 88 per cent of these emissions are caused by diesel vehicles.

air quality protest2webThe Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "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.

"We should be ashamed that our young people – the next generation of Londoners – are being exposed to these tiny particles of toxic dust that are seriously damaging their lungs and shortening their life expectancy. I understand this is really difficult for Londoners, but that's why I felt it was so important that I made this information public so people really understand the scale of the challenge we face in London.

"I am doing everything in my powers to significantly reduce NOx 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."

Zoleka Mandela, Global Ambassador of Child Health Initiative, said: "We are facing a global crisis and our children are on the front line. As they take their journeys to school every day, millions of children are placed at unacceptable risk. Every single day, 3,000 children are killed or injured on the world's roads in traffic crashes. Millions of children worldwide breathe toxic air. In the 21st century, how can we allow this?"

The updated London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory and associated PM2.5 research is available at: https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/pm2-5-map-and-exposure-data

MEANWHILE....

ClientEarth launches new air pollution legal action against the UK Government

clientearth homepgeClientEarth is taking legal action against the UK Government for a third time over its persistent failure to deal with illegal air pollution across the country.

The move comes just a year after ClientEarth claims its High Court victory forced ministers to develop plans to tackle the problem. The environmental law organisation said the plans still fell far short of what was needed to bring air pollution to within legal limits as soon as possible.
    
The CEO of ClientEarth, James Thornton, said: “The UK Government’s stubborn failure to tackle illegal and harmful levels of pollution in this country means that we have no choice but to take legal action. We need clarity from the government and for that we’ve been forced to go back to court.”
    
ClientEarth says its grounds for judicial review are:
• The latest plan backtracks on previous commitments to order 5 cities to introduce 'clean air zones' by 2020;
• The plan does not require any action in 45 local authorities in England, despite them having illegal levels of air pollution.
• The plan does not require any action by Wales to bring down air pollution as quickly as possible.
    
www.clientearth.org