What Pollution is in the Air in London?

5 Mains Pollutants in the Air in London

The main sources of air pollution in London are road transport and domestic and commercial heating systems.This leads to a lowering of Air Quality.  These sources emit a variety of pollutants, including:

  • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2): NO2 is a reddish-brown gas that is produced when fossil fuels are burned. It is a major irritant to the lungs and can cause respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
  • Particulate matter (PM): PM is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. It can come from a variety of sources, including car exhaust, wood burning, and construction dust. PM can cause a variety of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.
  • Ozone (O3): O3 is a gas that is formed when sunlight reacts with NO2 and other pollutants. It is a powerful irritant to the lungs and can cause respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.
  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2): SO2 is a colorless gas that is produced when fossil fuels are burned. It is a major irritant to the lungs and can cause respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): VOCs are a large group of chemicals that are released into the air from a variety of sources, including cars, factories, and paints. Some VOCs are known to be carcinogenic.

Lesser Know Pollutants in the Air in London

In addition to these main pollutants, air in London can also be contaminated with other pollutants such as carbon monoxide, lead, and mercury.

In addition to “chemicals” there is also a wide variety of plastic origin particle mater (POPP), this can come from laundry fibres and car tires.

a map showing air quality in central london yellow and green area are shown as being less polluted whilst red and purple areas are over the safe AQO limit, areas next to big ben and parliament square show as being above air quality objective

London Air Quality Network » Annual Pollution Maps

The levels of air pollution in London vary depending on the location and the time of year. Central London is generally the most polluted area, as it has the highest concentration of vehicles and other sources of pollution. Air pollution levels are also higher during the winter months, when people are more likely to burn wood for heating.

The Mayor of London has set a target of achieving world-class air quality by 2030. To achieve this goal, the city is implementing a variety of measures, including:

  • Reducing traffic emissions: The city is investing in public transportation, cycling infrastructure, and electric vehicles. ULEZs can also help reduce emissions from vehicles.
  • Improving energy efficiency: The city is helping businesses and residents to reduce their energy consumption, which will help to reduce air pollution emissions from heating and power generation. These schemes although available in theory are often difficult to apply for for, and they are not suitable for all people. For example swapping a gas boiler for a heat pump is only possible if your house is well insulated.
  • Planting trees and green spaces: Trees and other plants can help to filter air pollution and improve air quality. Some people even take it upon themselves to plant trees in their local neighbourhoods.

The city is also working with other cities and countries to share best practices and reduce air pollution on a global scale.

If you require an Air Quality Assessment in London or Bristol, or anywhere in the UK we are happy to help. Please contact us.

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