Pollution Monitoring

In the summer of 1998 Simon Wolff Action Group, a North London action group set up to raise a local memorial to Simon Wolff, sponsored three months of pollution monitoring on the Archway Road in London. The work was carried out by Morris Moore as part of his doctoral thesis at the University of Middlesex.

Pollution particulates known as PM10, PM25 and PM1 were monitored for three months. The results showed that people living, working or simply walking on the Archway Road were exposed to potentially dangerous particulates caused by combustion (i.e. motorised traffic) with peaks in the morning and evening, as well as some weekend peaks. The latter had more variable sources, the former had a consistent source. The consistent, elevated levels of PM10 during rush hours indicate the source of the particulates is traffic-related. Further monitoring of PM25s would be advisable as these fractions of the particulates penetrate deeper into the lungs and are therefore more likely to cause damage to health.

What are London authorities doing about urban pollution? Air quality monitoring is currently taking place at 20 sites in the Borough of Haringey. Under Air Quality Regulations 1997, all local authorities were required to undertake air quality assessments by December 1999. The pollution sources and levels were to be established, results to be compared with national standards, in particular if they would be likely to exceed them by 2005. Finally, if standards were not likely to be met then Air Quality Management Areas were to be declared with action plans to secure that the standards are indeed met by 2005.

The Environmental Health Officer for the Borough of Haringey reported in the Autumn of 1998 that Haringey would be unlikely to meet the national standards for Nitrogen Dioxide and PM10 for 2005. The Council is likely to declare the whole borough an Air Quality Management Area, along with its neighbours Barnet, Enfield and Waltham Forest. The boroughs included a bid for funds from the Greater London Authority for a Low Emission Zone in their Interim Transport Plans for 2001/2, but the bid was unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Ken Livingstone seems to have given up trying to meet air quality targets the main justification for traffic reduction in Outer London. His draft Transport Strategy says that the car will continue to be the dominant mode in Outer London and theres no mention of traffic reduction targets here. He does, however, aim to reduce traffic and improve air quality in Central London with his congestion charging scheme.