Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What Can London do to Improve its Air Quality?

English: view from Grange Road over parts of S...
English: view from Grange Road over parts of SE London Haze / air pollution is quite apparent even at 9/ 10 o'clock on a bright and breezy day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Air pollution in London - issues paper(19 page pdf, Health and Environment Committee, London Assembly, Deec. 10, 2012) Also discussed here: Air pollution in London - issues paper(Health and Environment Committee, London Assembly, D3ec. 10, 2012) London’s air pollution continues to be a concern for local and national authorities following the 2012 Olympic Games when it was a major issue (as it was in Beijing China in the last summer games four years earlier) with over 4,000 premature deaths each year in the city and health impacts across the UK of to £20 billion a year. Today, we review a report from the City of London’s Health and Environment Committee on how bad it is from measurements by the 100 monitors and what is needed to have improvements. The focus of recommendations is to reduce particulate pollution by further controls on diesel vehicles, focus attention on NO2 vehicle emissions which exceeded the EU threshold of 40 ugm/m3 concentration at all roadside monitoring locations and find ways to increase walking and cycling instead of driving.  

Key Quotes: 

“over 4000 extra deaths each year in London are attributable to one kind of pollutant, microscopic airborne particles.. the man-made majority of these particles is responsible for a proportion of all deaths in London boroughs ranging from around 6% in the least polluted outer suburbs to over 8% in the most polluted boroughs of inner London” 

“The health costs of air pollution in the UK have been estimated at up to £20 billion a year10 – twice as much as obesity.” 

“London’s air quality is monitored by a network of instruments at over 100 locations across London – including kerbside, roadside and urban background..There were (on provisional figures) more than 35 exceedences [of PM10] in 2011 at six monitoring stations in London – one industrial, two kerbside and three roadside monitoring”

 “the annual mean NO2 concentration[(40ug/m3)] is being exceeded at the large majority of roadside and kerbside locations in London. Some kerbside locations and busy street canyons30 are exceeding the annual mean by a factor of two or three” 

“the mean NO2 concentration over an hour (200ug/m3]…is sometimes exceeded at all London’s kerbside monitoring stations, some of the roadside locations, and provisionally in 2011 at one urban background location” 

Summary of recommendations:
  • “Concentrations of both PM and NO2 remain too high in London and further action is needed to protect public health and prevent potential large fines[5] from exceeding EU limits.
  • The most polluting vehicles on London’s roads are diesel. Options for reducing emissions should be considered, such as imposing stricter standards for diesel vehicles within the Low Emission Zone.
  • Retrofitting older buses with new technology could cut NOx emissions by more than 70 per cent. Some Committee Members believe TfL should do more to find innovative and bold solutions to emissions from its fleet.
  • Greater promotion of cleaner technologies, such as electric vehicles, walking and cycling, could also be considered.”
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