In the first eight months of operation, high levels of air pollution were detected by 40 per cent of the sensors in the Breathe London network.
London has identified several potential air quality ‘hotspots’ as it publishes fresh data revealing some of the city’s most polluted streets.
One of the major outcomes of Sadiq Khan, mayor of London’s Breathe sensor network programme to tackle London’s “toxic air” crisis was that poor air quality was not only a problem for people living and working in central London.
More than 100 fixed sensors were placed in locations across the capital and found levels of pollution likely to exceed legal limits, not only in central London but also outer boroughs such as Barking, Kingston and Hillingdon.
In their first eight months of operation, high levels of air pollution were detected by 40 per cent of the Breathe London sensors, showing locations are likely to exceed the legal annual levels of air pollution.
Sensors on busy West End roads also recorded levels of nitrogen dioxide 10 times higher than on smaller streets just a few metres away.
“These findings, from our world-leading Breathe London sensor network, are a stark reminder that pollution hotspots exist across London and will refocus our efforts on improving air quality for all,” said Khan.
“As we face up to the current climate emergency, I hope the success of this scheme will act as a blueprint for cities around the world to battle their own toxic air emergencies.
“It is vital that we face up to the reality of our situation and don’t shy away from the challenges presented by this new data”
In April, the mayor introduced the world’s first ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) in central London, with plans to expand the zone to the North and South Circular in 2021. Since it was announced and then implemented, central London has seen a 20 per cent reduction in emissions and 9,400 fewer cars enter the Ulez zone each day.
The mayor has established 10 low-emission bus zones (Lebz) – which have reportedly led to emission reductions of up to 90 per cent in some areas – and worked with TfL to transform London’s bus and taxi fleet.
The mayor’s air quality fund also aims to help boroughs complement like regional measures with effective local action.
According to the mayor’s office, measures like Ulez and cleaning up bus and taxi fleets are having a positive impact on air quality along some of London’s busiest roads but the Breathe London data shows how measures to reduce personal exposure such as driving less and selecting walking routes away from heavy traffic can help to avoid exposure to polluted air.
“London’s filthy air is a public health crisis that leads to thousands of premature deaths in the capital every year as well as stunting the development of young lungs and increasing the number of cases of respiratory illness,” added Khan.
“It is vital that we face up to the reality of our situation and don’t shy away from the challenges presented by this new data.”
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