We can’t breathe: Londoners exposed to illegal air pollution

The ULEZ tackles London's toxic air

Illegal levels of the poisonous gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are present across 14 areas of London according to a new study from City Hall. Levels of the toxin also broke limits set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Harlesden High Street in Brent topped the list of NO2 hotspots with three times the legal limit, but the study reveals similar levels of air pollution in both inner and outer London. The findings support the case for lower speed limits and expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) – due at the end of August.

Commenting on the air pollution study, London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said: “This data is yet more shocking proof that London’s air quality has been in serious breach of the recognised global standard – and it’s a problem in every single part of the capital,” Mr Khan said.

Not just walkers and cyclists – air pollution affects us all

Poisoned air affects us all, however we travel.  Air pollution in British cities can damage our health from before we are born, dog us throughout our lives, and for over 40,000 of us every year, kill us.

Greenpeace air pollution filter

As children we’re exposed to air pollution on the school run and while in the playground. When Unicef UK equipped six school children in London with personal air monitors to record exposure to soot particles, they  found that while the kids spent around 7 per cent of the day travelling, they experienced 15 per cent of their daily exposure to the pollutant while on their journeys.

As part of our film about road danger, Stop Killing our Children, we spoke to Professor Stephen Holgate who is Medical Research Council Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology and Honorary Consultant Physician within Medicine at the University of Southampton:

We know that here in the United Kingdom, for example, we have the highest prevalence of asthma in Europe and one of the major drivers of that of course is exposure to air pollution. The other thing that we understand more recently especially is that some of the pollutants get into the circulation and start increasing the risk of diabetes for example, which we know is going up in this country at the moment, and also impaired cognition – learning and the ability to acquire knowledge from schooling and teaching.

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance , breakdown cover  and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.


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