Let’s talk about air pollution, specifically in London. If you’ve ever visited London or live there you will know that it is such a vibrant and diverse city. I absolutely love visiting London because there is always something to do! However, there is something toxic next to people who are walking along these busy London streets – air pollution. Most people are unaware that air pollutants in London are playing a huge role in damaging the surrounding environment and harming the well-being of inhabitants.

london air pollution
Mist and pollution hanging over the London skyline. [Source: BBC]
Nearly 10,000 people die prematurely each year in London due to long-term exposure to air pollution. As an environmental scientist I am passionate about discussing and tackling environmental issues; especially air quality. To me, air pollution (comprising of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxides, particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and many more) is a huge concern because people are breathing in this toxic air day-in day-out, and most people are unaware of how it is affecting them; mentally and physically. I know I’m talking about London’s air quality, but air pollution is definitely in every major city you’ve visited too! Most of the air quality zones across the country are breaking the legal limits of the standard amount of air pollutants that should be required. This is leading to all sorts of health related issues from asthma to Sick Building Syndrome.

Serious action obviously needs to be taken.

Great smog.jpg
At this rate, will another Great Smog occur in London? [Source: History Today]
The Mayor of London has placed various strategies to reduce the toxic air pollution such as increasing the congestion charge for highly polluting vehicles entering London, carefully monitoring air pollution and banning the sales of diesel/petrol cars by 2040.

Current and planned strategies put in place by the Mayor of London to tackle air pollution in London [Source: Trust For London]

Yet, with so many of these strategies being put in place, I haven’t read of any positive outcomes and results from these (as yet…). I know that it is such a large issue to tackle and that it has only been put in place in a short amount of time… BUT banning the sales of diesel and petrol cars by 2040 is a long way away and by that time air pollution will still be as high as it is now!!

I believe that the best solution would be to reduce/restrict the amount of cars entering London at certain times (regardless of the type of car it is) instead of promoting heavier congestion charges; as every vehicle is polluting the atmosphere in one form or another.  Vehicles are the issue so the simple solution surely should be to limit the cars entering the city right?! Instead people can use public transport (tube, bus, etc.) or even walk.

London bus
Large amounts of money are being put into the Air Quality Strategy Plan to ensure more sustainable buses travel through London [Source: Greater London Authority]
London is impacting not only the well-being of London citizens but it is also affecting London financially. The cost of health impacts caused by air pollution on London’s economy is up to £3.7 billion. This is made up of the cost of treatment, lost work hours and concern and inconvenience to family members.

Air pollution might be mentioned in the media every now and then, BUT if The Mayor of London really wants to tackle the issue, then more awareness needs to be put in place. Air pollution shouldn’t be something that should be handled lightly.

I strongly believe that London will be one of the first leading cities to become sustainable and resolve this environmental concern.

More awareness, education and action is required for all.

What are your thoughts on this?


[Featured image source: Evening Standard]


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