The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced a three-day air quality crisis alert yesterday (18 January) as a pollution episode hit the capital.
According to King’s College London’s London Air Quality Network, London saw ‘very high’ levels of air pollution today (19 January) in areas including Vauxhall and Brent Park.
AirTEXT issued high air pollution alerts for eight boroughs, including the City of London, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster.
During high pollution episodes, government advice stipulates children and adults with lung or heart problems should reduce strenuous activity. People with asthma may need to use their inhaler more often and older people should also reduce physical exertion.
Sadiq Khan commented: “The extent of our air quality crisis means that I have today triggered a London-wide air quality alert, ensuring Londoners have all the information possible. It’s crucial that Londoners who are vulnerable, such as asthma sufferers, are able to take appropriate measures to protect themselves.
“At City Hall, we will keep on delivering the most ambitious programme to tackle air quality anywhere in the world, including the T-charge later this year, bringing forward the ULEZ and cleaning up our bus fleet.
The Mayor also called on the government to take action. He said: “By funding a national diesel scrappage scheme, reforming vehicle excise duty and bringing in a new Clean Air Act the Government could finally prove that they match our ambition. This requires all levels of Government to work together as an urgent priority to finally tackle the problem once and for all.”
Reacting to the announcement, Friends of the Earth London campaigner, Sophie Neuburg said: “It’s a scandal that millions of people, in one of the richest cities in the world, are regularly forced to breathe toxic air.
“The mayor is right to alert people to the threat this pollution poses to their health, and has already taken some steps to tackle the issue, but far more needs to be done.
“Sadiq Khan must follow the lead of Paris, Athens and Madrid and commit to banning dirty diesel from London by 2025.
“Air pollution is a huge public health threat – it’s time to stop tinkering under the bonnet and give transport policy a complete overhaul.”