Every Londoner is being exposed to dangerous levels of toxic air particles, with 95% of the population living in areas that exceed World Health Organisation guidelines by as much as 50%.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has released the “damning” report that shows 7.9 million people living in the capital are at serious risk of developing respiratory and cardiovascular disease from inhaling PM2.5 particles.
And in central London, the average annual levels of PM2.5 are almost double recommended limits of 10 µg/m3.
At a keynote speech, delivered today at City Hall, Khan said: “It’s sickening to know that not a single area of London meets World Health Organisation health standards, but even worse than that, nearly 95 per cent of the capital is exceeding these guidelines by at least 50 per cent.”
Khan, who is aiming to get pollution levels in the city within WHO guidelines by 2030, also released a new map showing every area of London that is exceeding the guidelines, so residents can see for themselves.
He said: “I understand this is really difficult for Londoners, but that’s why I felt it was so important that I made this information public so people really understand the scale of the challenge we face in London.”
The data, which is based on the latest London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, revealed that around half of the PM2.5 is from external sources outside the city, however the main sources internally were from tyre and brake wear, construction and wood burning.
Sadiq used the speech to announce that London will be joining other global cities in the Breathe Life coalition, organised by WHO, UN Environment and Clean Climate and Clean Air Coalition, to drive down emissions of toxic pollutants in a collaborative effort.
In the short-term the Mayor wants to focus on improved education about the types of fuel that should be used and when they should be used. And introducing a stricter set of emission standards on future sales of wood burning stoves.
And on 23 October, the T-Charge comes into force, removing older and more polluting vehicles from central London.
After hearing the speech, Zoleka Mandela, Global Ambassador of Child Health Initiative, said: “We are facing a global crisis and our children are on the front line. As they take their journeys to school every day, millions of children are placed at unacceptable risk. Every single day, 3,000 children are killed or injured on the world’s roads in traffic crashes. Millions of children worldwide breathe toxic air. In the 21st century, how can we allow this?”
Khan added: “We should be ashamed that our young people – the next generation of Londoners – are being exposed to these tiny particles of toxic dust that are seriously damaging their lungs and shortening their life expectancy.”
PM2.5 are small particles which are widely acknowledged to have the greatest impact on health with both short and long term exposure increasing the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, according to research from King’s College.
Children exposed to these toxic pollutants are more likely to grow up with reduced lung function and develop asthma, while PM2.5 is also known to result in 29,000 premature deaths in the UK every year.