Levels of nitrogen dioxide breached legal limits across London in 2021, with pollution hotspots recording air pollution levels 50% higher than the legal limits, according to new analysis by Clean Cities Campaign.

Legal limits in the UK and EU for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were meant to be met by 2010 at the latest.

Using the latest data available, the analysis found 15 out of 73 air pollution monitors in London recorded levels above legal limits, and none of the monitors met the latest World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

The highest levels of NO2 were recorded at Brixton Road, Lambeth and Putney High Street, Wandsworth, followed by Cromwell Road, Kingston Upon Thames.

Illegal levels of NO2 were also found in Ealing, Camden, City of London, Brent, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Sutton, Waltham Forest, and City of Westminster.

Oliver Lord, UK Head of Clean Cities Campaign said: ‘If this isn’t a wake-up call then I don’t know what is. These limits were meant to be met 12 years ago, and when that eventually happens, they are still four times World Health Organization guidelines. We need greater certainty that London is on track to phasing out toxic diesel fumes. The Ultra Low Emission Zone must be expanded without delay and the Mayor’s plans for a central London zero emission zone need to be expedited. There is no time to waste’

The UK has a legal annual limit value for NO2 of 40?g/m3. World Health Organization guidelines on levels of NO2 were recently revised to 10?g/m3, taking into account the latest health evidence.

Rosa Appleby Alis, a parent in Ealing commented: ‘This is shocking. Air pollution has contributed to my son going to hospital 12 times, in addition to 10 trips to A&E. My son was in hospital at the start of the year after the high pollution episode and there were a lot of children with breathing difficulties and the hospital was struggling to manage. These children deserve better and we need this urgently to be taken more seriously.’

Photo by Dan Jones

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