Just five days into 2017, London reaches its pollution limits for the entire year

The city's mayor Sadiq Khan has doubled spending to €1bn to combat air pollution citywide

Just five days into 2017, London reaches its pollution limits for the entire year

[Flickr/Oleg Korshakov]

Only five days into the new year and the city of London has already surpassed it annual air pollution limits set for the 12 months yet to come. Brixton Road, in Lambeth borough, became the first part of the British capital to breach the pollution levels mandated by EU law.

According to the EU’s guidelines, the air pollutant nitrogen dioxide should not exceed more than 200 micrograms per cubic meter more than 18 times over the course of a calendar year. But January 5th saw the air quality monitoring station on Brixton Road record a 19th breach by 9pm, with other parts of the city expected to surpass the limits in the coming days.

In 2016, it took only one week for London to go beyond its yearly nitrogen dioxide allocation, while The Guardian reports that Putney High Street recorded more than 1,200 incidents.

Tackling London’s air pollution problem has been announced as a top priority for mayor Sadiq Khan, who has vowed to increase funding to more than €1bn to resolve the issue.

Deadly cost of air pollution

“You, your family, and friends are suffering and almost 10,000 of our fellow Londoners die prematurely each year because of air so filthy it is actually illegal,” Khan wrote in his manifesto. “Environmental checks are not simply a side concern to be weighed up against economic and social benefits.”

British environmental activists have called on the UK government to back up the mayoral office in responding to the toxicity levels.

“This is another shameful reminder of the severity of London’s air pollution and shows why the mayor has rightly made tackling it a top priority,” said Alan Andrews, a lawyer for the environmental law group ClientEarth.

According to the British Lung Foundation, most of London’s problems come from vehicle emissions, with diesel the main culprit. Recent studies into the fuel have found that diesel-powered cars are 10 times more toxic than heavy trucks and buses.

In December, leaders in Paris, Mexico City, Madrid, and Athens all pledged to ban diesel vehicles from city streets by 2025.

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