Following the publication of the Environmental Audit Committee on air pollution which concludes that thousands of lives are being put at risk by the UK’s failure to tackle poor air quality, Jean has written the following letter to London papers:
It is estimated that around 4,000 people died as a result of the Great Smog of London in 1952; a public health crisis so devastating in consequence that it led to the introduction of the Clean Air Act in 1956.
Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a similar, invisible endemic – air pollution levels in London are the highest of anywhere in the UK and amongst the worst in Europe, linked to over 4,000 premature deaths every year. Yet a new report published by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee has found that Mayor Johnson is still failing to take the necessary measures needed to achieve acceptable levels of air quality in the capital.
London is already in breach of legally binding EU air quality standards which dictate that dangerous airborne particles known as PM10 do not go over a certain level more than 35 days per calendar year. This year, that quota was reached in April. And the Mayor’s response? To ‘glue’ air pollution particles to the road with dust suppressants, a strategy that would be laughable if the situation wasn’t so tragic. We need to tackle the problem – too much polluting traffic – not the symptoms.
Breathing heavily polluted air is putting Londoners at greater risk of developing respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. Citizens’ health must come first, and the Mayor of London must make every effort to comply with the standards without delay.
Green MEP for London