Air Quality – Frequently Asked Questions, by Stephen James of the Environment Trust, April 2019
Air pollution is damaging our environment and our health. Up to 40,000 early deaths are attributable to air pollution each year in the UK. Air quality is an important issue for the environment and for health and well-being. Research about air quality is wide-ranging, detailed and complex. Some questions arise frequently in public discussion. There is a need for short, clear and accurate answers, together with pointers to comprehensive information. The questions and responses at https://e-voice.org.uk/kef/faqs/one-faq?faq_id=39185705 are a selection. Local AQ map below - most polluted spots in red, then yellow.
KEF's September 2016 statement on local air quality - and what we should do to improve it can be read at http://e-voice.org.uk/kef/assets/other/kef-statement-on-local-air-qua
If you're interested in air quality and pollution - and who isn't? - you can keep up with local and national developments and news in the Make Air Safe and Clean (MASC) Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/MakeAirSafeClean/ and/or join the new Kingston Clean Air Now (CAN) group, a cross-community campaign about Kingston's polluted air with a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/376862079764252 and a website http://kingstoncan.org.gridhosted.co.uk/
KEF response to the consultation on Heathrow expansion, May 2017, objecting to expansion largely on air quality and sustainability grounds. KEF members have continued to attend meetings and consultation and respond negatively to the prospect of expansion of Heathrow and air travel.
Letter / press release sent to Surrey Comet and other local media, May 2017:
"Walk to School Week this year is from 15th to 19th May – if you are a parent, why not give it a try? According to the charity Living Streets “walking to school makes children feel healthier and happier, while reducing congestion and pollution outside the school gates”, and the Living Streets website provides ideas and resources for families and schools that will help make the walk to school fun.
But fun or not, you may be persuaded to take to your feet by the knowledge that sitting inside a car can be more dangerous for your children’s health than walking or cycling or scooting to school. Air pollution inside cars is worse than that on roads or pavements because the air intakes of cars are so close to exhaust-pipe level, and community monitors in nearby Kew found that school drop-off zones were 3 times more polluted than other roadsides. Children suffer the worst effects from air pollution because their lungs are still developing and may never fully develop if regularly exposed to pollution.
Roadsides may not be the healthiest places to walk, but if you choose quieter roads and walk on the inside of pavements, as far from the road as possible, you can reduce the risks to your children - and it will still be healthier than taking the car. And if you manage to walk to school for a week, maybe you could manage it for longer?
Co-chair, Kingston Environment Forum"
Kingston Council documents:
- Kingston Council's final Air Quality Action Plan, July 2016
- Kingston Council's draft Air Quality Action Plan, April 2016 (saved on our website here)
- Lib Dem response to Kingston consultation on AQAP
- Kingston AQ data, 2014-15
- RBK Adults' and Children's Committee AQAP papers here at Appendix F and pages F15 onwards have the responses: F18 starts Viv Evans' and F20 KCC's
Media reports on air pollution
- https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/04/revealed-every-londoner-breathing-dangerous-levels-of-toxic-air-particle, Guardian, October 2017
- "Parents should be banned from leaving the car running while waiting outside school gates, to cut air pollution, according to official health guidance", BBC news, 30/6/17, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40431351#
"Car Sick" A short, simple factsheet on the impacts of traffic pollution on children’s health by George Monbiot, 5th March 2017, http://www.monbiot.com/2017/03/05/car-sick/
- Guardian series on air pollution, Feb 2017, at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/pollution
- "The European Commission has sent a "final warning" to the UK over breaches of air pollution limits. It said limits had been repeatedly exceeded in 16 areas including London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow" BBC news. 15/2/17 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38980510, also picked up by the Surrey Comet - http://www.surreycomet.co.uk/news/15094659.UK_given__final_warning__by_EU_over_air_pollution_in_London_and_other_cities/
- Jan 2017 Evening Standard report on latest London borough to take action on idling engines, Westminster, at http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/london-motorists-who-leave-engines-running-to-face-80-fines-a3439786.html. Vehicle idling is an offence against the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002, though it is only sporadically enforced. Other London boroughs taking action include Lambeth, City of London, Kensington & Chelsea, Islington...The law states that is an offence to idle your engine unnecessarily when stationary. If you fail to turn your engine off after being spoken to you may be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £20.
- "Travelling on the Underground exposes commuters to more than eight times as much air pollution as those who drive to work, a university study has found", BBC news, Feb 2017- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-38969190
- "Cars don’t just choke our children – they tear a hole in our communities,"George Monbiot in The Guardian, 8/11/16 - https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/08/cars-choke-communities-pollution-diesel
- The Guardian view on air pollution: ministers must act (Editorial, 10/11/16) - https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/08/the-guardian-view-on-air-pollution-ministers-must-act
- ClientEarth wins air pollution case in High Court, 2/11/16 - http://www.clientearth.org/major-victory-health-uk-high-court-government-inaction-air-pollution/
- From The Independent, April 2014 evidence that pollution is a factor in deaths from respiratory disease
- From The Guardian, May 2016 http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/21/all-top-selling-cars-break-emissions-limits-in-real-world-tests
- From The Guardian, Feb 2016 "The truth about London's air pollution" including some nasty surprises for drivers
- How Paris is stepping up its drive against the car, BBC news magazine, 2/5/16 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36169815
- BBC programme demonstrates how quite small trees can reduce the amount of pollution in homes on a busy road. Michael Mosley and surgeon Gabriel Weston help test a new pollution filter developed by Professor Barbara Maher at the University of Lancaster: silver birch trees.
- New mayor of London calls air pollution ‘our biggest environmental challenge’ and plans to bring the increased ultra low emission zone into force early - http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/13/sadiq-khan-to-double-size-londons-clean-air-zone-pollution
- Evening Standard on London air pollution, including http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/use-road-taxes-to-tackle-londons-filthy-air-says-london-mayor-sadiq-khan-a3269986.html
“Air pollution could increase risk of stillbirth, study suggests. Exposure to vehicular and industrial emissions heightens risk during pregnancy, researchers say.” The Guardian, 24 May 2016
“Air pollution linked to increased mental illness in children. New research is first to establish the link and builds on other evidence that children are particularly vulnerable to even low levels of pollution” The Guardian, 13 June 2016
Kingston's Tiffin school among London's 90 worst secondary schools for air pollution - https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/01/children-at-nearly-90-london-secondary-schools-exposed-to-dangerous-air-pollution
- From The Guardian, 30/8/16 - "Air quality shows little improvement..." https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/30/uk-air-quality-shows-little-improvement-past-20-years-says-study
Other AQ data and campaigns
Life Cycle Assessment of Vehicle Fuels and Technologies, Final Report, London Borough of Camden, 2006
Pasenger car environmental impacts - camparative graph https://e-voice.org.uk/kef/assets/other/car-environmental-impacts
Institution of Civil Engineers interim report, April 2017: "Growing cities and building resilience - air quality" https://www.ice.org.uk/ice-thinks/growing-cities-and-building-resilience/air-quality "As the issue of air quality in our cities becoming increasingly important to city dwellers and policy makers, ICE is asking the question: what can civil engineers do to help reduce air pollution?"
National Clean Air Day, 15 June - lots of useful info and resources at https://www.cleanairday.org.uk/ https://www.cleanairday.org.uk/
- Enter your postcode on the FoE map to find out how clean the air is where you are - https://www.foe.co.uk/page/how-clean-air-where-you-are
Air test results from monitoring carried out by New Malden residents in October 2016 - http://e-voice.org.uk/kef/assets/documents/aq-results-new-malden-nov201
National Institute for Clinical Excellence consultation on guidance on air quality, Dec 2016 -Jan 2017- Draft guidance: Air pollution - outdoor air quality and health: "Drive smoothly to reduce harmful effects of air pollution, says NICE: NICE recommends lorry and bus drivers drive ‘smoothly’ to help reduce harmful air pollution linked to 25,000 deaths a year in new draft guidance." https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/drive-smoothly-to-reduce-harmful-effects-of-air-pollution-says-nice
- DEFRA National Air Quality Objective
- Client Earth on Air Pollution, including their landmark case against the UK government in November 2016 - http://www.clientearth.org/air-pollution/
- "Lethal and Illegal" (IPPR report published 2 Nov 2016) "London's air pollution is a deadly and mounting public health problem – one that demands immediate as well as long-term action from the city's new mayor, and from Westminster. Our report sets out that urgently needed strategy." - http://www.ippr.org/publications/lethal-and-illegal-solving-londons-air-pollution-crisis
- Air Quality Information for Public Health Professionals – London Borough of Kingston upon Thames, Greater London Authority September 2013 - https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/air_quality_for_public_health_professionals_-_rb_kingston_upon_thames.pdf
- Clean Air in London: "Air pollution in our biggest cities is much worse than most of us have realised. It averages well over twice World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and legal limits near many of London’s busiest roads. Mayor Johnson has estimated some 4,300 premature deaths in London in 2008 were attributable to long-term exposure to dangerous airborne particles alone."London Air Quality Network (King's College): https://www.londonair.org.uk/LondonAir/Default.aspx
- Richmond Heathrow Campaign Heathrow Expansion Factsheet 4 on Air Quality - http://rhcfacts.org/air/
- TfL on Environment and clean air - https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/corporate-and-social-responsibility/environment?cid=transport-emissions
- Love Clean Air: The ‘South London Cluster Group’ of Bromley, Croydon, Merton, Lewisham, Richmond, Sutton, and Wandsworth councils working together to promote air quality in the region - http://lovecleanair.org/
- Royal College of Physicians on health impacts of air pollution: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/news/doctors-say-40000-deaths-year-linked-air-pollution; https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/every-breath-we-take-lifelong-impact-air-pollution; https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/news/rcp-calls-eu-action-air-pollution; https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/every-breath-we-take-lifelong-impact-air-pollution
- Plume - facts on air and apps - http://facts.plumelabs.com/
- 20's Plenty for Us - http://www.20splenty.org/ - a 'not for profit' organisation campaigning for 20mph to become the default speed limit on residential and urban streets; 300 local campaigns around the country and many of our most iconic cities in the UK have already adopted a 20mph limit for most of their streets.
- London Sustainability Exchange - Lsx, Cleaner Air 4 Communities Project (July 2013 - June 2015), and Lsx Action Planning Toolkit
- Kew Residents' Association presentation on local air pollution, May 2105
- City of London documents on AQ - http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/business/environmental-health/environmental-protection/air-quality/Pages/city-air.aspx - and AQ strategy - http://e-voice.org.uk/kef/assets/other/city-of-london-aq-strategy
- Health risks from AQ inside cars: http://www.airqualitynews.com/2016/02/16/higher-air-pollution-health-risk-inside-car-study-finds/; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35504768; http://road.cc/content/news/129814-testing-mps-reveals-worst-air-pollution-inside-cars;
- 'Parents start arriving to collect their children, who stream out noisily. Most are walking but some are in cars – one has “Prince on Board” in the rear window – and the NO2 level rises. At a school in Cheltenham, where many children are picked up by car, Mounsor recently measured a tripling in NO2 levels during the school run. But the more surprising discovery takes place when Mounsor moves off to simulate a car journey home from school. He finds that NO2 levels are 2.5 times higher inside the vehicle than outside. “There’s a concentrating effect of being in a confined space,” he says. Ali-Webber calls it “sweet justice”. “The public health message is, you can’t hide from air pollution inside a car,” says Ben Barratt, an air quality expert at King’s College London (KCL).' https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/05/the-truth-about-londons-air-pollution
Analysing Air Pollution Exposure in London - 2013 report to GLA -https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/analysing_air_pollution_exposure_in_london_-_technical_report_-_2013.pdf
GLA on Air Quality and Pollution - https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/pollution-and-air
App to show low pollution routes in London http://cityairapp.com/