Pollution on Oxford Street breaches EU annual limit in just FOUR days

Pollution levels on Oxford Street in London breached the EU’s entire annual legal limit just four days into the new year.

Said to be Europe’s busiest shopping street, Oxford Street is fast gaining a reputation as the world’s most polluted street too.

Campaign group Clean Air London, working with academics at Kings College London monitored air quality in several locations in London. Oxford Street broke the EU’s limit a day earlier than it did last year, while other pollution blackspots including Putney High Street and Brixton Road are expected to breach in the next day or two.

The EU limit is 18 hours a year in which nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels are above 200 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3). Last year, Oxford Street’s readings were above 200 ug/m3 for a total of 1,361 hours. There are 8,765 hours in a year.

Simon Birkett, founder and director of Clean Air in London, said: “Concerns about air pollution, particularly NO2 and diesel exhaust, have risen exponentially. Leading scientists say that many roads in central London will tend to have the highest NO2 concentrations in the world.

Clean Air London has also branded Mayor Boris Johnson’s planned ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) “too small, too weak and too late,” and pointed out that he has scrapped phase 5 of his own low emissions zone that had been planned to come into force this year.

“London needs to ban diesel from the most polluted places by 2020, as coal was banned so successfully 60 years ago, with a meaningful intermediate step by early 2018. The mayor seems to have a love affair with diesel that must end,” Birkett added.

A spokesperson for Johnson said: “At the heart of his plans is the world’s first ultra-low emission zone in central London from 2020, and already, progress is being made.

“The oldest and most polluting vehicles have been taken off the streets, and around Oxford Street alone, the mayor’s measures have reduced emissions by a third in two years.”

The background

It’s not the first time we’ve heard about how damaging London’s air pollution is for your health.

Check this lot out, for starters…

Oxford Street is the world’s most polluted street (Jul. 2014)

London air pollution contributes to all four main causes of death in capital(Jan. 2014)

Air pollution death rates up in half of London boroughs (Nov. 2013)

Rising air pollution levels linked to irregular heartbeat and lung clotting(Jun. 2014)

The need-to-know

Want to know more? Here’s what you need to know about the extent of the problem - and what you should do about it.

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