Toxic air pollution in central London has fallen by a third since the Mayor introduced a new traffic charging zone”. Levels of nitrogen dioxide in the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) dropped by 30% in the first six months of the scheme, City Hall data has revealed.
Breathing high levels of the chemical has been linked to lung disease, heart problems and premature death. There are over 100 more heart attacks on high pollution days, a study of nine major UK cities revealed. And hundreds more adults and children are admitted for strokes and asthma attacks when pollution is high, the Kings College research found.
Sadiq Khan said the figures “prove without a doubt” that the ULEZ has gone beyond expectations in cleaning up London’s air.
The zone, introduced in April, covers the same area as the Congestion Charge – vehicles must meet low emission standards, or pay £12.50 per day to enter the area. The Mayor plans to expand the ULEZ out to the North and South Circular roads in October 2021.
Car fumes currently make up half of all air pollution in London – but in the first six months of the new charge there were 13,500 fewer heavily polluting vehicles in the city centre every day.
Now, 77% of traffic in the area is compliant with emission rules. Almost 10,000 fewer tons of carbon dioxide were produced in the zone – meaning it is combatting climate change by reducing greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
The Mayor said: “I am determined to stop Londoners breathing air so filthy it is damaging our children’s lungs and causing thousands of premature deaths.
“The ULEZ shows what we can achieve if we are brave enough to implement such ambitious policies.”
London Assembly environment committee chairman Caroline Russell welcomed the decrease in pollution, but said air was still too dirty.
She said: “While it’s encouraging to see the ULEZ is cleaning up London’s air, there’s still so much more work to be done.
“The levels of nitrogen dioxide in central London are still well above the legal limit. This is not good enough. Londoners must be protected from the high-levels of pollution in the Capital.”