Published: Sun, January 08, 2017
Science | By Boyd Webster

London bulldozes annual air pollution limit in just five days

London bulldozes annual air pollution limit in just five days

And for good reason: London exceeded its annual air pollution limits for the whole of 2017 on Thursday night - a whopping five days into the new year.

A site on Brixton Road in south London surpassed hourly limits for nitrogen dioxide concentrations 24 times so far this year, breaking the European Union's annual permitted limit of 18 breaches, according to provisional data on King's College London's Air Quality Network website.

Levels of nitrogen dioxide were measured at 574.4 micrograms per cubic metre outside the world famous Knightsbridge department store during busy traffic.

The gas is linked to heart and lung problems and even early deaths. NO2 main cause is emissions from diesel vehicles.

London Mayor Sadiq Kahn has made air pollution crack down a key issue in his early tenure, proposing a wide-ranging action plan to tackle toxic air in the capital.

'Road traffic is the biggest culprit - and diesel is the worst.

In the past few months, doctors, health professionals and campaigners, have all spoken out about the devastating impact of air pollution on human health, especially for children, the elderly, asthma sufferers and other vulnerable groups. This should be an Act that can deliver real change in the war against toxic air, that equips the Mayor with the required powers to help London become a zero-emission city, so that we can address the scourge of air pollution once and for all.

A year ago it took eight days before pollution limits were exceeded. "The government needs to match the mayor's commitment to improving air quality as quickly as possible".

"If cars coming off the production line had dodgy brakes, you know the government would step in to sort it out", said Paul Morozzo, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace.

For his part, Khan announced on Friday the introduction of new "green bus zones", which will see low-emission buses deployed on some of the capital's most polluted streets.

In December, Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City pledged to ban polluting diesel cars from their centres by 2025 and a number of cities outside the United Kingdom have already taken action such as banning cars on specific days or making public transport free.

"Safeguarding the health of Londoners is vital and I'm doing everything in my power both to transform London's bus fleet and to target areas with the worst pollution". We urgently need to stop the sale of new diesel models until emission testing is truly fit for goal.

The mayor has pledged to double funding to tackle air pollution to £875m over five years.

ClientEarth also said the "perverse" financial incentives that encourage people to buy diesel cars rather than cleaner ones must be ended.

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