Time to Tackle Global Air pollution

29 January by Chris Saunby


Air pollution is a hot topic across cities and countries worldwide, from London to Beijing air pollution levels are creeping up and are a hidden killer which has to be addressed.

Kensington and Chelsea has the most polluted air in the United Kingdom, with more than one in 12 of all deaths in the London borough attributable to PM (particulate matter) largely made up of soot emitted by diesel engines. 

The statistics, collated by Public Health England – an agency of the Department of Health – suggest that London and south-east England have by far the worst air in Britain, largely due to traffic levels.

In London, 3,389 people died of air pollution and 41,404 "life years" were lost in 2010, while in south-east England, 4,034 people died and 41,728 years were lost.

This month also see the publication of the EU’s first aviation environment report, which predicts a 43 per cent rise in NOx (nitrogen oxide) over the next 20 years.

NOx is linked to lung damage and although airlines have reduced their planes emissions in the last decade, the report says the improvements are coming too slowly.

Around 23,500 Britons die prematurely each year from exposure to NOx, according to provisional government figures. Another 29,000 people die early from the effects of PM pollution.

High NOx concentrations around airports are a particular public health concern with Heathrow airport breaching safety limits in several different locations and times in 2012, according to its own measurements.

The UN International Civil Aviation Organisation meets in Montreal next week to discuss a new CO2 standard for planes, and market measures to drive emissions down.

For more information see 'Air pollution from Europe's planes set to rise by nearly half' (pub. The Guardian 29.01.16)