London air pollution ‘dangerously high’

Published Oct 06, 2013 07:12am

LONDON: Air pollution from traffic and industry is dangerously high in east London, according to tests by local “citizen scientists”.

Local environment groups placed 36 diffusion monitoring tubes on structures close to parks, bus stops, busy roads and in residential areas, to measure emissions in more than 30 streets. They were left for four weeks and only four were removed or stolen.Analysis by a laboratory used by government found that concentrations of the toxic exhaust pipe gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exceeded EU levels by over 50 per cent in some areas, and was over the safety limit in 15 out of 32 places tested.

The results are alarming, say the groups, because colourless, odourless NO2 pollution is cumulative and the 15 sites surpassed the annual safety limit after only four weeks.

The experiment suggests that official testing of roadside air pollution is limited and insufficient. Many of the tubes measured emissions in streets that are never monitored, and those placed near official monitors mostly recorded levels above those published by government.

Air pollution from traffic in east London is considered by health experts to be some of the worst in Britain, mostly affecting the old and young and linked to respiratory and heart diseases. It is estimated that air pollution kills over 4,000 people in the city each year.

The Green party assembly member Darren Johnson said on Friday that London’s air pollution was an “absolute crisis.”

Environment groups expect air pollution to deteriorate further in east London if two major infrastructure developments are permitted. City airport has submitted plans which could allow it to add 50,000 more flights a year. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, also wants a new Thames road crossing that could massively increase traffic.

“Our sampling showed that in key public locations readings are breaching EU guidelines. We are being asked to believe that the massive expansion of London city airport will have only a negligible impact on air quality. This shows it is simply not the case,” said Alan Haughton of Stop City Airport.

By arrangement with the Guardian

More From This Section

Comments (0) (Closed)