Posted on Jun 01, 2016
Earlier this year volunteers from the Society carried out a snap shot survey of the air quality across nearly 30 locations in Putney. The results have now been analysed and validated by London Sustainability Exchange.
We all know air pollution is a serious problem in Putney. We had the ignominy of our High Street becoming the first area of London to breach annual EU nitrogen dioxide (NO2), within the first eight days of 2016. By mid-May there had been over 650 separate breaches of EU limits.
Our 2016 survey, following up an earlier one in 2011, was designed to detect the level of NO2 in the air. Exposure to NO2 causes respiratory problems which can lead in the longer term to permanent lung damage and heart prob-lems and ultimately a shortened lifespan. In children exposed to poor air, lungs may never develop properly leaving them impaired for life. Air pollution experts at King's College London estimate that the total number of premature deaths from NO2 and particulates in London is between 3,500 and 9,500 a year.
Our key findings are:
Survey results confirm that local air pollution problems extend beyond the High Street and into nearby main and residential roads.
Where we could compare results with our 2011 survey there was no significant improvement in NO2 levels despite the introduction of cleaner buses on some Putney routes.
The majority of locations (15/29) tested exceed EU recommended levels of NO2 (which is 40 microgrammes of NO2 per cubic metre) with levels at eight of the locations more than 50% greater than the recommended EU safe level.
The most polluted sites are the High Street outside the cinema and at the junction with Putney Bridge Road; Putney Hill; various sites along Upper Richmond Road and the Lower Richmond Road outside the Star & Garter and the petrol station.
Of six sites close to local schools, three were above EU limits, one alarmingly so. Near Putney High School the measurement exceeded the EU recommended level greatly. Measurements near to the Merlin pre-prep school and Lion House also exceeded acceptable limits.
Almost two thirds of the NO2 in London’s air comes from road transport and almost half of that from diesel engines. Both Transport for London (TfL) and Wandsworth Council have introduced a number of policies to mitigate the problem. These include TfL’s introduction of more hybrid buses and a plan to reduce pollution to acceptable levels by 2020 by the extension of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone. Locally, Wandsworth Borough Council has developed an air pollution strategy, maintained regular air monitoring in the High Street, lobbied for less polluting buses and restricted day time loading for lorries in Putney High Street.
The Society will publicise these survey results and continue to campaign for measures to tackle pollution. It plans to hold a Members’ Meeting in September to discuss the results and options for remedial action.