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article imageLondon breaches air pollution annual limit for 2017 in five days

By Karen Graham     Jan 6, 2017 in Environment
London - When we think of choking smog, the first city that comes to mind is Beijing, China, but it seems that London, UK is running a close second, a statistic that has been called a "public health emergency."
In an effort at bringing London's poor air quality into focus for the public, Greenpeace activists helped Mary Poppins, wearing a gas mask, to fly over Parliament today to remind politicians that their inaction in tackling air pollution is costing lives.
Air pollution should be a thing of the past, but in many cities across the world, London included, toxic emissions from factories and diesel powered vehicles continues to pollute the air we breathe. Shockingly, 2017 is the third year in a row that London had breached the annual air pollution limit within seven days, and this year, it only took five days for it to happen.
The BBC says that according to European Union law, hourly levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) must not exceed 200 micrograms per cubic meter more than 18 times a year. The biggest source of air pollution comes from diesel vehicles, and NO2 is toxic to human health, particularly to children.
Air quality readings taken on Brixton Road in South London found NO2 levels were repeatedly breached. King's College London runs the London Air Quality Network. They told the BBC that some London streets have the highest levels of NO2 exposure in the world.
Putney High Road, which was the first road to exceed the legal limit in 2016, went on to exceed the hourly limit over 1,100 times last year. Keep in mind the air quality monitors record NO2 levels hourly and daily. The air quality limits have been broken so many times across the city that MP's in April last year were calling the crisis a “public health emergency," reports the Guardian.
Mayor of London vows to tackle the air pollution problem
Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced the addition of 10 new low emission bus zones in the city, the news coming on the same day the air pollution results were announced. The new routes will bring the total number of planned Low Emission Zones to 12.
The mayor has also pledged to double funding to £875m over five years to tackle the pollution problem. And while London's mayor is trying to improve the city' air quality, the UK government’s national plans to tackle pollution have been ruled to be illegal, and sent back to the drawing board for the past two years.
Interestingly, a new study published this week, it was found that modern diesel cars produce 10 times more NO2 pollution than heavy trucks and buses, which experts say is because the heavier and larger vehicles face tougher testing parameters.
More about Air pollution, london UK, diesel emissions, nitrogen dioxide, annual limits
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