London’s low-emission zone fails to improve air quality

low zone(h/t Raining Sky) Bad news for people with asthma ‚Äì and London motorists. Attempts to clean up the city’s air by charging drivers of polluting vehicles to enter a “low emission zone” didn’t get off to a good start.

Launched in 2008, the zone requires coaches, lorries and buses that fail to meet low-emission standards to pay a charge to enter the city. The scheme was projected to deliver drastic reductions in polluting gases and particles ‚Äì levels of nitrogen oxides were predicted to drop 10 per cent in 2012, for example. But in its first three years, there was no change in air quality, says Frank Kelly at King’s College London.

Kelly and his colleagues measured air quality in the boroughs involved in the scheme. Over the period examined, the group saw no significant change in any of the particulates or the nitrogen oxide emissions they looked at.

They also tracked the respiratory health of pupils at 23 schools in east London, measuring their lung function and checking for breathing and skin disorders that have been linked to pollution, such as wheezing, rhinitis and eczema. Again, no improvement in the children’s health was seen between 2008 and 2011.


There are probably several reasons why the scheme hasn’t lived up to expectations, says Kelly, citing our continued reliance on diesel-powered vehicles as one.

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