Four thousand Londoners died from toxic air in 2019 alone, according to a new report on the impact of dirty air and the benefits of emissions policies pushed through by Sadiq Khan.
The study, from Imperial College London’s Environmental Research Group, found that the highest number of deaths caused by air pollution are now recorded in outer London boroughs. Bromley, Barnet, Croydon and Havering had the highest deaths, believed to be due to the number of older residents who are more vulnerable to toxic air.
City Hall says the findings highlight the need to expand clean air measures – like the ULEZ. Air pollution has long been linked to lung and heart disease, but increasingly scientists are seeing evidence of its role in a range of conditions including cancer, dementia and Parkinson’s disease. It has also been linked to miscarriage.
Researchers also detailed progress made between 2016 and 2019, which saw a 97 per cent fall in the number of state primary and secondary schools located in areas exceeding legal pollution limits – from 455 in 2016, to just 14 in 2019 and a 94 per cent reduction in number of Londoners living in areas exceeding legal limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
It is believed clean air policies, pushed through from City Hall, will now mean children born in London in 2013 can expect to have a life expectancy of six months higher than before.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he was ‘enormously proud’ of what has been achieved so far, and said he was committed to expanding the ULEZ in October after the ‘stark reminder’ of the 4,000 deaths in 2019 linked to dirty air.
Jemima Hartshorn, Founder of clean air campaigning group Mums for Lungs, based in south London, said: “This report is encouraging, we are pleased to see that the action the mayor of London is taking will help increase the life expectancy of children in London.
“I am glad that the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in October will have more of an impact in protecting the health of our children.
“However, this report is also a stark reminder that there are thousands of premature deaths and many more people getting sick from toxic air in our capital.
“I am calling on the government to take leadership on this now, and commit to achieving at least WHO recommended guideline limits by 2030 in the new Environment Bill. We cannot afford to delay action on this any further – our children deserve to breathe clean air.”