New measurements by Enfield Green Party show that air pollution is a threat to everyone in the borough - and particularly to children.
We measured the average levels of toxic pollutant Nitrogen Dioxide during January and found them to exceed the legal level at half the sites measured. In Bowes ward, for instance, four out of six measurements exceeded the level whilst the other two were only 5% below it.
“This has shocked even me” said Ronald Stewart, the Green Party candidate for the London Assembly (Enfield and Haringey), “though I expected the results to be bad.” Previous research has shown that air pollution kills over 9,000 Londoners each year (1, 2). The new data shows that some of these must be Enfield residents despite Enfield’s being a leafy outer London borough.
Children are particularly at risk from air pollution as their developing lungs are especially vulnerable. “We measured levels outside three Enfield schools” Ronald explained. “and found illegal levels outside Bowes and Tottenhall Schools. The Bowes level exceeded the legal limit by 66%! The level outside Eversley Primary was legal but still worryingly high.”
“I am really worried about these figures.” said Anna Wilkinson, a Bowes school mum. “I knew the air was bad along the North Circular but the problem is clearly much more widespread”.
Air pollution causes more premature deaths than alcoholism or obesity. Only smoking causes more early deaths than air pollution in Britain (3). It has been strongly linked to asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular illness. It also causes substantial economic losses (4).
Most of London’s air pollution is due to emissions from road vehicles. It is a London-wide problem and requires decisive action from TfL which should extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone to the North Circular.
Green Party mayoral candidate Sian Berry is also determined to reduce air pollution. As mayor she would speed up the switch-over to cleaner buses and taxis, exclude of the most polluting vehicles from our roads, improve public transport and support local authorities in reducing speed limits to 20 mph.
“The 20 mph limit has just been introduced in Haringey’, says Ronald Stewart. “It’s time to extend it to Enfield.”
Green Party activists distributed information about air pollution and Green Party commitments for action at various locations around Enfield on Monday March 14th.
1) Walton, et al, 2014: Understanding the Health Impacts of Air Pollution in London. Report for Transport for London and the Greater London Authority.
2) From ref 1:
“The total mortality burden in 2010 from PM2.5 and NO2 [was] … equivalent to 9,416 deaths at typical ages.” Of this:
- 3,537 deaths were due to fine particles (PM2.5) and
- Up to 5,879 deaths were due to long-term exposure to NO2.
3) Clean Air in London, Guide to health impacts. By Simon Birkett, 2012. http://cleanair.london/health/guide-to-health-impacts-invisible-air-pollution-is-the-biggest-public-health-failing-or-cover-up-for-decades/
4) Also from ref 1: “The estimated economic costs of the above health impacts ranged from £1.4 billion … to £3.7 billion …. Inclusion of other less well established health outcomes would increase the economic costs.” Thus the per person cost is somewhere between £160 and £430 per year.