Certain parts of London in the UK have already broken the EU’s annual pollution limits; just one week into the new year.
Putney High Street in West London is one of the places which has broken limits for nitrodgen dioxide, which is a harmful pollutant emitted by diesel vehicles, which has been found to contribute to respiratory issues.
Under European rules for air quality, there is an hourly limit of 200 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic meter of breatheable air, and sites are not allowed to exceed that limit on more than 18 occasions in one year. By Friday the 8th of January, Putney High Street had exceeded that limit for the 19th time. It is expected that this weekend will see Kensington and Chelsea break the limit before the 11th January. Experts believe that Oxford Street will have also already breached the limit, but cannot confirm this, because the station that monitors the air has malfunctioned.
Last year, Oxford Street breached the EU’s limits within two days, and broke it a total of a thousand times within one year.
The air quality rules were enacted to protect residents and workers from heart problems and respiratory diseases, and the British government has announced plans to help cut pollution in the UK, but these plans have not yet been fully implemented.
Campaigners have spoken out against the quality of the air in the city, calling it ‘breathtaking’ that the pollution was so serious, so early in the year. The congestion charge that is used in the city was intended to cut traffic, and the introduction of the ‘Boris bike’ was also aimed at cutting traffic but it has clearly not had a big enough effect on the amount of diesel vehicles passing through the city during peak times of day.