London has already breached its legal limits for toxic air for the entire year, a feat it achieved this time around in just five days. Now the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has warned of a “public health emergency” as a toxic air alert has been issued for the city.
The alert is expected to last for at least three days, with 17 boroughs of London and the City predicted to record “moderate” air pollution later today, while parts of central London including Westminster, the Square Mile and some busy main roads are forecast to hit a peak “high” on Wednesday, before dropping back down.
“London’s dirty air is a public health emergency,” said Khan. “We will continue to use all the technology at our disposal to inform Londoners about levels of air pollution in their neighbourhoods.”
The air pollution in London is thought to be contributing to around 9,000 deaths every year. As well as increasing the rate of adult-onset asthma, another major study has found that the heavy levels of pollution are even stunting the growth of children’s lungs in the capital. A six-year analysis of over 2,000 children living across east London recorded that eight- and nine-year-olds have up to 10 percent less lung capacity than normal, and will be affected for life.
According to the government’s own recommendations, if air pollution reaches “high”, then “adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors, and particularly if they experience symptoms.” They also suggest that if anyone starts to experience “sore eyes, cough, or sore throat” then they should cut down on activity, especially if outside.
Many major cities are now considering more drastic action to try and cut the air pollution that is filling the air and harming their citizens. Mexico City, Athens, Madrid, and Paris have already pledged to ban all diesel vehicles by 2025, and Oslo has just enforced a two-day ban on diesel cars in an attempt to bring pollution there down too.