On the day that the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is launched here in London this post looks at how the air in London is being monitored and how you can add an app to your phone to check your local environment on a day-to-day basis. The ULEZ will supersede the T-charge and create stricter emissions standards for diesel vehicles, 24 hours, 7 days a week.
The Mayor for London states that the introduction of the ULEZ will help reduce exhaust NOx and PM emissions, helping to improve air quality and making central London a safer and more pleasant place to live, work and visit. It is hoped that the positive effects will be especially beneficial to the young, older people and those who have respiratory problems, as well as residents of high pollution areas.
Londonair is the website of the London Air Quality Network (LAQN), and shows air pollution in London and south east England. The website provides information for the public, for policy users, and for scientists and was developed was formed in 1993 to coordinate and improve air pollution monitoring in London. The network provides independent scientific measurements and assessment. Establishing and running a monitoring site requires a large investment, and it is not possible to put monitoring everywhere, so maps and models have been developed to predict the pollution levels in between. London Air is available as mobile apps for both iPhone and android operating systems.
Is air pollution worse in London?
London suffers from traffic related pollution in a similar way to most UK cities, but the sheer size of the city, along with a dense road network and high buildings, means that central London tends to be one of the most polluted places in the UK. It is currently the main area failing to comply with the legally binding limits set by the EU. Pollution can build up in London when it becomes trapped between buildings,or in the local area more generally, especially during still weather.
Ozone pollution in spring and summer can also be a problem, but normally in London suburbs rather than the centre, and the highest levels in the UK are found in rural areas. Ozone is often higher in the south-east compared with the rest of the UK.
Within Europe London is the largest city, but we have less pollution than some EU cities because we are on the western edge of the continent and often receive fresh air from the Atlantic. From a global perspective, research from the World Bank shows that air pollution is a major health hazard in developing countries.