Air pollution is a growing problem across the UK, but it’s particularly bad in London.
Yesterday, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan revealed that every Londoner is exposed to illegal levels of PM2.5, which is toxic particles that can cause or worsen lung and heart conditions such as asthma.
Mr Khan pledged to get the “unacceptable and shameful” air pollution level down to the World Health Organisations legal limits by 2030.
Now a Government adviser on pollution, Frank Kelly, said that all cars need to be banned or drivers need to be dissuaded from using them if targets are to be met.
Air pollution advisor to the Government said electric cars are still big polluters
Professor Kelly has stated that large areas of London should be pedestrianised and that only private cars should be allowed to travel through the city in the day time.
The reason for this is because of the tiny toxic particles created by brakes and tyres from vehicles called PM2.5 which are causing the premature deaths of 29,000 annually.
These particles are so dangerous because they can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory issues and heart problems.
According to the data published by Mr Khan nearly 95 per cent of London lives in an area which exceeds the WHO’s legal limit for particle pollution by 50 per cent.
WHO guidelines state that the annual limit of of 10 micrograms per cubic metre of air (10 µg/m3) which is exceed by twice or more across the majority of London and the outskirts.
By 2030, an estimated 90 per cent of PM emissions from road transport will be from tyre and brake wear
In addition to tyres and brakes being a key cause of PM2.5, diesel cars are another major contributor.
The Mayor has stated that a number of “hard measures” will be introduced to improve air quality in the city.
One for these is the introduction of the toxin tax on 23rd of October which imposes a £10 levy on drivers who are travelling into the capital’s congestion zone.
According to Greater London Authority, tyre and brake wear is however the biggest contributor of PM2.5 in the UK.
95 per cent of London exceeds WHO guidelines for PM2.5 by 50 per cent
It claims that “By 2030, an estimated 90 per cent of PM emissions from road transport will be from tyre and brake wear.
GLA also added that the most effective way to reduce tyre and brake emissions would be “reduce the vehicle kilometres being driven.”
This has now sparked concern by Professor Kelly, who is director of the environmental research group at Kings’ College London.
He believes that the switch to electric cars will not be enough to allow the UK achieve the WHO goal by 2030.
Amount of cars on the roads needs to be reduced to tackle issue, claims pollution advisor
This is because the brake and tyre particle pollution will still be present, if the quantity of vehicles on the road remains unchanged.
According to Professor Kelly, electric cars contribute large amounts of PM2.5 from their tyres, citing that because the cars are typically later and heavier because of the batteries, believing they could even produce more emissions than sea standard car.
He said to The Times: “If you make ever vehicle in London, we think you will still be above the WHO limit.
“Reducing the number of vehicles on the road is a must.
“All major routes within Central London would need to have restricted traffic or no traffic.
“I would love to see a central ares where the public transport was fantastic and the roads were pedestrianised so we didn’t need cars in there during the day.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is committed to reducing the sickening levels of air pollution in London.
“It’s sickening to know that not a single area of London meets World Health Organisation health standards, but even worse than that, nearly 95 per cent of the capital is exceeding these guidelines by at least 50 per cent.
“We should be ashamed that our young people – the next generation of Londoners – are being exposed to these tiny particles of toxic dust that are seriously damaging their lungs and shortening their life expectancy.”
In addition to the toxin tax a number of other scheme and initiatives are being introduced in a bid to curb the dangerous levels of toxic pollutants, including an audit of 50 schools across the city.
“I am doing everything in my powers to significantly reduce NOx emissions by introducing the T-Charge to drive down the number of dirty vehicles polluting our roads and our lungs and implementing an Ultra Low Emission Zone with even tighter standards.”
Responding to new research from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, which shows that all Londoners are exposed to dangerous toxic air particles, Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, said: “This shocking new data on the state of London’s dangerous air pollution must be a wake-up call to politicians and Londoners alike.
“Fine particles of air pollution can get deep into the lungs and the bloodstream and have even been declared to cause cancer by the World Health Organisation.
“It’s a little known fact that a lot of pollution comes from tyre and brake pad wear as well as from vehicle exhausts.
“That’s why we need fewer vehicles on the roads as well as cleaner vehicles to protect Londoners health.”
Friends of the Earth welcomed the London Mayor’s commitment to signing up to meet tougher standards on air pollution.
The charity is calling for the Mayor to strengthen the Ultra Low Emission Zone, and bring it in sooner, and to abandon the proposed Silvertown Thames road crossing which would add to London’s air pollution problem.