On Tuesday 30 January 2018, the Guardian reported that London has already reached its legal air pollution limit for the whole of 2018.
Nevertheless, this shows significant improvement from earlier years. London’s air quality remained within legal limits until mid-January, a first in 10 years.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had commented earlier this month that he was optimistic with regards to NO2, despite expecting the legal limits to be breached by the end of the month. The BBC reports that the Mayor “attributes the clear air in part to the introduction of Low Emission Bus Zones and the T-Charge for dirtier cars”.
A new requirement that all taxis licensed must be zero-emission capable was added to the Mayor’s programme for improving London’s air quality on the 1st January.
However, there is a long way to go. More than 9000 early deaths are still attributed to air pollution in London and 24% of primary schools around London are in areas breaching NO2 standards.
Legal limits in jeopardy?
The legally binding limits in question are part of UK Air Quality Standards Regulations based on compliance with EU legislation on Ambient Air Quality (European Commission 1).
The most recent of these EU legislations are the 2008 and 2015 European Commission directives wherein the 2008 Directive identifies there being “no identifiable threshold below which PM2.5 would not pose a risk” in line with World Health Organisation standards. (European Commission 2; BBC 2).
With UK air quality legislations based on compliance with EU standards, the future of legal limits on UK air quality appears uncertain as Brexit draws closer.
For those interested, King’s College London offers a real-time forecast for checking air pollution in the city: