The Scandal of London’s Air

The Scandal of London’s Air by Peter Robison October 8, 2019  Bloomburg Business week

Decades of diesel use in Europe have created a public health crisis so bad that air pollution may soon be cited as a cause of death. One American decided to move home to spare his family. Peter Robinson moved to London a year ago, my wife, Leslie, and I embarked on an adventure, moving with our two sons from Seattle to London. He has now returned to seattle

Peter Robinson visited Prof Frank Kelly, head of the Environmental Research Group to discuss the air quality of the Capitol.  King’s College King’s College London operates the world’s most extensive network of air-monitoring stations, 117 of them in almost all of London’s 32 boroughs. Their instruments generate a pollution map marked red for the highest levels and green for the lowest. The result is something like a bloodshot eye: red in the city’s center and down the arteries of major roads. It’s a visual representation of what makes this era of traffic-borne pollution so insidious. Conditions are worst exactly where the most people live. Nitrogen oxides produced by the combustion of diesel engines react with air to form NO2, a toxic gas that inflames the lung, heart, and brain and has been linked to cancer and dementia in addition to respiratory illnesses. Diesel tailpipes also produce tiny particles known as PM2.5s. A secondary pollutant, ozone, forms when the pollutants react with sunlight—and those levels, too, have worsened with climate change.

London has exceeded EU limits for NO2 since 2010, and levels are also high in Munich, Paris, and other cities that embraced diesel. Some days in London, the average level is higher than in Beijing, more than doubling the legal maximum. Follow the link to read the full article.