An issues paper by the Greater London Authority Health and Environment Committee highlights the long-term health impact of toxic pollutants, which have been linked to life-shortening lung and heart conditions, breast cancer and diabetes. It is estimated there are over 4,000 extra deaths each year in London from particulates and health costs are estimated at up to £20 billion a year – twice the cost of obesity.
According to recent official figues highlighted in the paper, the percentage of deaths attributable to man-made airborne particles was highest in the City of London (9 per cent), Westminster (8.3 per cent), Kensington and Chelsea (8.3 per cent) and Tower Hamlets (8.1 per cent). Bromley and Havering (both 6.3 per cent) had the lowest proportion in London, though are still above the England average of 5.6 percent.
The paper sets out a number of pressing issues, including:
- Concentrations of both PM and NO2 remain too high in London and further action is needed to protect public health and prevent potential large fines from exceeding EU limits.
- The most polluting vehicles on London’s roads are diesel. Options for reducing emissions should be considered, such as imposing stricter standards for diesel vehicles within the Low Emission Zone.
- Retrofitting older buses with new technology could cut NOx emissions by more than 70 per cent. Some Committee Members believe TfL should do more to find innovative and bold solutions to emissions from its fleet.
- Greater promotion of cleaner technologies, such as electric vehicles, walking and cycling, could also be considered.