London's new air quality measures to benefit poorest the most

11th January 2019

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Michelle Dixon

New measures to reduce London's air pollution will particularly benefit people living in the capital's most deprived areas, research from emissions consultants Aether has revealed.

It also forecasts that no school in London will be exposed to illegally high levels of air pollution by 2025, with the number dropping from 371 in 2013 to just four by 2020.

The projections are based on the introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone in April, along with other measures such as tree planting programmes and boosting charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Mayor Sadiq Khan, said: “It cannot be right that your background and where you live determines the quality of the air you breathe, and that is exactly why measures like the Ultra Low Emission Zone are so vital.“

“By taking tough action, we can ensure that within six years the most deprived schools will be no more likely to have higher exposure to NO2 pollution than the least deprived schools.“

Aether estimates that people living in London's poorest areas are exposed to around a quarter more NO2 pollution on average, but that this gap will reduce 71% by 2030 thanks to Khan's new measures.

Commissioned by City Hall, the research also found that people from mixed or multiple ethnic groups are more likely to live in areas with higher NO2 pollution than white residents.

It is projected that the difference in exposure between the areas in which these ethnic groups live will reduce by 85%.

But despite this progress reducing NO2 levels, the research highlights lower improvements for cutting PM2.5 particles, with all Londoners still expected to be living in areas exceeding World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines in 2030.

City Hall said Khan “simply does not have the regulatory powers to address this problem“, and cannot tackle emissions from buildings, for example, but that he continues to lobby the government for these.

British Heart Foundation chief executive, Simon Gillespie, said: “It's now paramount that action is taken at national level to protect those most vulnerable from the damaging effects of the air we breathe.

“This means bringing the WHO's guideline limits into UK law to ensure that everyone across the UK is protected from the health harms of poor air quality.“

Image credit: iStock


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