Climate Action

2 million people in London living in areas with toxic air

New data released from the Mayor’s office shows 2 million Londoners are living in areas with illegal air.

  • 01 April 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

New data released from the Mayor’s office shows 2 million Londoners are living in areas with illegal air. 

The data, released by the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (LAEI), in an update which now includes figures for 2016.

Between 2013 and 2016, total nitrogen dioxide emissions fell by 9 per cent. In the first three months of 2016, 43 monitoring sites in London recorded hours exceeding their legal limits for NO2, with 13 exceeding their annual limit (18 hours). So far in 2019, just 10 monitoring sites have recorded hours with pollution levels above the limit, while none have breached its annual limit.

However, it was also reported that two million people, including over 400,000 children, in London are living with illegal air pollution.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said he is committed to improving air pollution in London. So far this year, there has been a 57 per cent reduction in the number of hours recorded in which the city exceeded the 200ug/m3 limit for NO2, compared to the same period last year.

Sadiq Khan said: “From the very outset I have been crystal clear that I would do everything in my power to tackle London’s toxic air crisis. So far in my mayoralty, this includes cleaning up our bus and taxi fleet and establishing the largest air quality monitoring network of any major city.”

The introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), a daily charge to cars driving within certain zones, has been welcomed by Londoners. The ULEZ will launch in just under a weeks’ time and is set to reduce the number of polluting cars on London roads.

Charges for the ULEZ will be £12.50 for most vehicles including cars, motorcycles and vans (up to 3.5 tonnes) and £100 for heavier vehicles, including lorries (more than 3.5 tonnes) and buses and coaches (more than five tonnes).

Sadiq Khan added: “The introduction of the world’s first 24-hour seven-day-a-week Ultra Low Emission Zone next week marks a watershed moment in our fight to clean up our filthy air. The data I’ve published today gives an even clearer picture of the urgent need to take action.

Chair in Environmental Health at King's College London, Professor Frank Kelly, said: “London needs effective measures to improve air quality to an acceptable level at which it is not having a negative influence on children’s health. The ULEZ is a world-leading initiative that has been designed to have the positive impact that our capital deserves. I applaud the Mayor and his team for taking the bold action needed to protect the health of London’s children.”

The Mayor has also introduced an interactive air pollution map which shows the locations of air quality monitoring and action across London.

Download the data from the Mayor’s Office here.

Photograph: Greenpeace 

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