It was revealed today that nearly 95 percent of Londoners live in areas with dangerously high levels of one of the most toxic particles known to be floating around in our air. Which, obviously, is spectacularly bad news.
New research has found that in literally every single part of London – from Oxford Street to those largely grey bits that look like suburban Reading but still have red buses – the levels of the highly damaging particle, known as PM2.5, exceed World Health Organisation (WHO) limits by 50 percent or more. In central London, the average annual limits are nearly double the WHO limits.
It's toxic particles like these that have led to London's air becoming actively deadly, causing – as it does – 5,900 early deaths a year. That's more deaths than those caused by road accidents (2,092, in 2016), knife crime (60, in 2016) and general homicide (109, in 2016) combined. Health experts say that children exposed to this kind of pollution are more likely to grow up with reduced lung function and be at a higher risk of developing asthma.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said, "It's sickening to know that not a single area of London meets World Health Organisation health standards, but even worse than that, nearly 95 percent of the capital is exceeding these guidelines by at least 50 percent."
There are plans to introduce an ultra low emissions zone (ULEZ) in 2019 in an effort to curb the levels of pollution. But until then you're going to have to make do with the government's current advice for those with lung problems, or old people, or people who just generally don't want to develop serious respiratory issues decades before they're supposed to: stay inside and avoid busy roads.