A new report predicts that policies specific to London, alongside wider improvements in air quality, will add six months to the average life expectancy of a child born in London in 2013.
The research was commissioned by the Greater London Authority and Transport for London from the Imperial College School of Public Health’s Environmental Research Group.
It used known and projected levels of air pollution from 2013 up to 2050 to assess the impact on health of air quality policies.
These include schemes introduced by mayor Sadiq Khan, such as Low Emission Zones for heavier vehicles and the Ultra Low Emission Zone (due to be expanded this year), as well as potential future London policies and background trends resulting from the predicted effects of national and international policies in London.
Researchers found that London’s population would gain around 6.1 million ‘life years’ – one person living for one year – across the population in the long-term, compared to what would have happened if pollution levels remained at 2013 concentrations.
Dr Heather Walton from the Environmental Research Group said: ‘For our study we used a new method to produce the latest estimate of the burden of air pollution on mortality in London in 2019.
‘It is encouraging that we predict good gains in life years across the population over time from air pollution reductions as a result of air quality policies, including those targeted at London.’
Researchers found that for London to meet 2005 World Health Organisation guidelines on particulate matter by 2030 the population would gain a further 20% increase in life years over the next 20 years
The report states that in 2019 around 4,000 deaths in the capital could be attributed to air pollution, with the highest number recorded in outer London boroughs, due to the higher proportion of elderly people in these areas.
However, larger life expectancy gains were found in Inner London, including in some of the most deprived boroughs, owing to greater cuts in pollution.
Mr Khan said: ‘I am enormously proud of the work we have done over the last four years to improve London’s air quality, including delivering the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone.
‘However, the report is a stark reminder that air pollution in our city still represents a public health crisis and urgent action is needed.’