Air pollution FAQs
These FAQs were compiled after a request for clear information at the Great Green New Year Gathering in January 2019.
Where can I see up to date information about air quality in our area?
An interactive map is here: www.londonair.org.uk. You can see up to date modelled information across Greater London to a level of single streets.
Map of Kingston, Tolworth, New Malden from londonair.org
How do the following factors affect local air quality: shift to cycling from motor transport;street trees; wood-burning stoves; Heathrow; diesel vehicles;
Shift to cycling from motor transport?
Road transport is responsible for 80% of the pollution where legal limits on air pollution are being broken. Strategies to reduce vehicle use, especially for short trips and for the most polluting vehicles in cities will help to reduce pollution.
Effects of street trees?
Trees remove some kinds of pollution, mitigate flood risks and sequester carbon. Trees that are inappropriate for local conditions or poorly maintained can make air quality worse, e.g. by slowing dispersion of pollutants. Trees also provide benefits such as promoting biodiversity and improving the streetscape and well-being.
Effects of wood-burning stoves?
A wood burning stove emits more particles per hour than a diesel truck. Undried wood contains water and it is the drying process that causes wood to smoulder and release pollutants. The Government is committed to ensuring that only the cleanest stoves will be available for sale by 2022.
Effect of Heathrow?
Emissions from aircraft are a major concern for global levels of pollution and for climate change. At a local level, aircraft emissions are of little concern. Air pollution caused by road traffic around Heathrow is a much bigger problem.
Reduced reliance on diesel?
Most air pollution in London is caused by road transport, of which diesel vehicles are the most polluting. 42% of cars sold in the UK in 2017 ran on diesel, down from 50% in 2013. Although diesel engines have become cleaner this remains an important source of pollution.
Are you exposed to more pollution inside or outside a car?
Exposure to toxic air is often far higher inside than outside vehicles. According to the RAC (automotive services), for the average car commuter who sits in traffic for just one hour each day, exposure to air pollution inside their vehicle is the equivalent to passively smoking 180 cigarettes each year.
What action is being taken on air quality in Royal Borough of Kingston and elsewhere?
Kingston Council publishes an annual Status Report on Air Quality, detailing the levels of pollution and actions taken to fulfil the Air Quality Action Plan. The Plan includes actions such as traffic management and encouraging cycling.
What is Kingston’s strategy on electric vehicles?
The 2016 Air Quality Action Plan states the Royal Borough’s intention to promote electric vehicles and car clubs. Driving range and charging infrastructure can be barriers for people to buy an electric vehicle. Charging points are detailed on this map: www.zap-map.com/pts/0v8hydc/
What are the most effective interventions to improve air quality?
Public Health England has reviewed the evidence in detail. The shortest summary is to say that there are effective actions at every level, from individuals using less petrol and diesel to governments making appropriate regulations.
Where can I find more detailed information and evidence?
References and further information:
Air pollution inside cars:
www.rac.co.uk/drive/news/motoring-news/in-car-pollution-equivalent-to-passively-smoking/ (Accessed 5 Apr 2019)
Improving air quality through cycling and walking
Effects of trees and vegetation on urban air pollution
www.ltoa.org.uk/?fontstyle=f-larger&start=168 (Accessed 5 Apr 2019)
Wood burning stoves – Government Clean Air Strategy 2019
www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46823440 (Accessed 5 Apr 2019)
Most effective interventions to improve air quality
Diesel car sales
Royal Borough of Kingston Air Quality Action Plan and Status Reports
https://www.kingston.gov.uk/info/200261/pollution/615/air_pollution/2 (Accessed 5 Apr 2019)
Kingston Environment Forum – Statement on Air Quality 2016