The quality of air across London is below EU standards. Failure to address this despite deadline extensions means a fine out of London funds of up to £300m.
Lack of information has been one reason this hasn’t been higher on the public agenda. In summer 2012 the Better Archway Forum therefore took measurements of nitrogen dioxide around the centre of Archway, this being a good measure for all pollutants.
The tubes remained in place for four weeks and all locations on main roads exceeded EU maximum limits. This was despite the damp summer when weather conditions will have tended to reduce peak levels. In a hot and sunny summer the readings would have been worse.
The measurements are in micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³). And while a reading of 30-40 is bad for health, we were finding readings which were much higher (for full details see the table at the end).
Junction Rd - 75% above EU limits
Magdala Ave - above EU limits
Lower Highgate Hill - 50% above EU limits
Flowers Mews - above EU limits
Archway Rd - above EU limits
St Johns Way - 25% above EU limits
Holloway Rd - 25% above EU limits
St Johns Rd - 25% above EU limits
low = below 30 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³)
mod = 30 - 40 µg/m³
above EU limits = 40 - 50µg/m³
25% above EU limits = 50 - 60 µg/m³
75% above EU limits = >70 µg/m³
The only location which did not exceed these limits was at the end of the short cul-de-sac just off Holloway Road, Windermere Rd. Here air pollution was low. Although Islington is a borough where the majority do not own a car, this result indicates that traffic is the source of the pollution.
The NHS North Central London – Islington - Annual Health Report 2011 stated that; ‘Respiratory disease comprises the third largest cause of death in Islington. Compared to previous years, this report shows that there has been a very significant increase in the overall diagnosis of COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).‘
‘Whilst the burden of undiagnosed COPD remains high, the proportion of cases that are diagnosed in Islington is among the highest in London.’
‘Asthma is the most common long term condition among children, with 3,178 diagnoses, of which 213 (6.7%) are in children aged under five years.’
Subsequent similar work by the Whitehall Park Residents Association and Tufnell Park Parents has reproduced similar or more worrying findings.
Some of the findings are posted on the community map at https://communitymaps.org.uk/project/air-quality-monitoring.