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London breaches annual air pollution limits in five days

London’s toxic air has breached legal limits for the whole year just five days into 2017.

Brixton Road in Lambeth won the dubious honour this year of being the first to breach the legal limit – which stipulates levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) should not be more than 200μg/m3 for more than 18 hours over the entire year. It reached 19 hours at 9pm on Thursday.

NO2 in towns and cities comes mostly from road traffic.

ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews said: “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.

“It is absolutely essential that he now delivers on his promises and that the national government back him to the hilt.

“He has promised to introduce a bigger ultra-low emission zone in 2019 and to deploy the cleanest buses on the most polluted roads. While these are vital steps in the right direction, we can’t wait another three years for action. We need immediate action to cut pollution in the short-term and protect Londoners’ health during these pollution spikes.

“While London has the worst air pollution, this is a national problem which requires a national solution. The government’s draft plans to tackle air pollution, as ordered by the High Court, are due in April. They must include a national network of clean air zones, which stop the dirtiest diesel vehicles entering pollution hotspots. They also have to stop the perverse fiscal incentives which encourage people to use diesel vehicles and instead help them to buy cleaner ones.”

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Fred Mouniguet

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