London mayor Sadiq Khan has directed Transport for London (TfL) urgently to develop a package of alerts to better inform people when air quality is at dangerous levels.
Mr Khan revealed ‘worrying’ new figures about the dangers to health ‘from the capital’s filthy air’ and said Londoners should have been better informed about these dangers on more than 100 occasions during the last two and a half years.
City Hall said Mr Khan is working with TfL ‘to develop a campaign that will see Londoners kept more informed about the state of the capital’s air’. He will announce details of this campaign shortly.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has again criticised his predecessor
Proposals being considered include signs beside the most polluted roads to alert Londoners when the air is dangerously bad, promoting the use of the free airTEXT service and a more effective use of social media and traditional media.
The new statistics, from King’s College London, show that the Saharan Dust episode in April 2014 was one of the 49 times air pollution climbed to moderate or higher that year.
This year has so far seen 22 incidents episodes of particularly poor air quality.
During these episodes, current Government advice is that adults and children with lung problems, adults with heart problems, and older people, should avoid or reduce strenuous physical activity.
Although his predecessor, Boris Johnson, issued some information on the capital’s air quality, Mr Khan criticised this as inadequate.
He said: The previous mayor failed to consistently send out strong enough messaging regarding the quality of London’s air despite on-going pleas from health campaigners. These figures show that on numerous occasions, Londoners could have been given better, higher profile warnings and taken action to limit their exposure during episodes of extremely high pollution.’
Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, said the charity fully supports the mayor’s plans to improve air quality in London.
Mr Khan will launch a formal consultation shortly on a package of measures to tackle air pollution, mainly from traffic sources, in London.
However, City Hall said nearly half the long-term health impacts of poor air quality are caused by pollution outside London. This includes diesel fumes and industrial emissions transported from the continent.
Mr Khan has also joined a High Court challenge of the Government’s air pollution plans, brought by environmental lawyers ClientEarth, as an Interested Party. He has said London can meet the legal standards for toxic nitrogen dioxide well before 2025, which is the date the Government’s Air Quality Action Plan projects that it will be compliant with EU rules.