Haringey choking on toxic pollutants in the air we breathe

15 March 2016

‘Our recent monitoring of NO2 levels in the air we breathe in Haringey has been truly shocking’ says Ronald Stewart, Green Party candidate for the London Assembly (Enfield and Haringey constituency)[1]. ‘I expected the results to be bad, but I didn’t expect every single one of the sites we tested to breach EU limits and some at more than double the legal limit.’

Pollution hotspots in Tottenham - the east of the borough - include: Tottenham High Road (marked with a red diamond) where we measured 100 micrograms per cubic meter, which is 2.5 times the legal limit. But other points on Tottenham High Road are also more than 1.5 times the legal limit (marked with red map markers).[2]

Pollution hotspots in Hornsey & Wood Green - the west of the borough - include: Muswell Hill roundabout at the top of Dukes Avenue where we measured 75 micrograms per cubic meter, nearly twice the legal limit (marked with a red diamond). Archway and North Road in Highgate also show high levels of pollution. Even St. Martins of Porres primary school near Bounds Green, situated well away from main roads and close to Muswell Hill Golf Course, recorded pollution levels of 40 micrograms per cubic meter, just at the legal limit.

Some of the worst polluted sites are close to schools, including primary schools. Near West Green Primary School we measured 60 micrograms per cubic meter, exactly 1.5 times the legal limit. Research has found that children are far more likely to develop asthma when exposed to high levels of NO2 pollution because their lungs are still developing. And they aren’t the only ones at risk. According to Policy Exchange ‘NO2 has been strongly linked with emphysema, bronchitis, and heart disease.’[3]

‘London needs to act now’, says Ronald Stewart. He is committed to working in the London Assembly for real change so that the air we breathe will first meet EU standards and then improve to a level where it is truly safe.

Green Party London Mayoral candidate, Sian Berry is equally determined to make this happen. This will include speeding up the switch-over of buses and taxis to cleaner vehicles, the exclusion of the most polluting cars, vans and lorries from our roads, the improvement of public transport by introducing fair fares and removing artificial fare zones, and supporting local authorities in reducing speed limits to 20 mph.

‘In Haringey, the 20 mph limit has just been introduced’, says Ronald Stewart. ‘Our monitoring predates this. We will repeat the monitoring in a year and see the impact that’s had.’

[1] Haringey Green Party mounted test tubes in 40 locations around the borough on 3 January 2016, took them down on 7 February 2016 and had them analysed by Network for Clean Air in Oxford (see: http://www.cleanairuk.org/index.html)

[2] Key to map: NO2 is measured in micrograms per cubic meter; 40 micrograms per cubic meter is the EU legal limit, which is not necessarily considered safe. Markers on the map in red represents readings above 60 micrograms per cubic meter (with the one marked with a diamond the highest at 100 in our research); Markers in purple reflect readings of between 50 and 60; markers in blue represent readings of between 40 and 50. None of our samples came in below the legal limit.

[3] Policy Exchange, Something in the Air, The forgotten crisis of Britain’s poor air quality, 2012, p 7, accessed at: http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/images/publications/something%20in%20the%20air.pdf on 5 March 2016

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