Majority of Londoners say pollution has hit health as GPs demand ‘bold action’



More than half of Londoners say their health has been worsened by air pollution, it was revealed today.

Eight out of 10 people also believe that combating toxic air should be a priority, according to research for the capital’s 33 boroughs to mark Clean Air Day.

It came as doctors called on Mayor Sadiq Khan to extend the ultra low emission zone (Ulez) to the suburbs next year — a year earlier than planned — and to do more to clean up the capital’s bus fleet.

The annual research for London Councils found awareness of air pollution had risen to 92 per cent of respondents, its highest level. 

Almost one in three parents say they take local pollution levels into account when choosing a school for their children, up from 22 per cent three years ago.

Mr Khan today revealed plans for London’s biggest car-free day, when 12 miles of roads in central London, including Tower Bridge, will be closed to traffic on Sunday September 22.

But he came under attack from the British Medical Association, which said it was “disappointed” by the delay in radical measures to reduce pollution. 

The BMA, the doctors’ union, said there needed to be many more hydrogen-cell buses and suggested arterial roads that could only be used by “green” forms of public transport, with private cars banned.

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Dr Gary Marlow, BMA London regional council chairman, said: “Air pollution is already having measurable effects on respiratory health, and we believe that unless you take the ‘bold and innovative action’ you have promised, this phenomenon is likely to increase greatly.”

Eighteen boroughs will hold events to mark Car-Free Day, such as closing roads for the day to create “play streets”. Many roads around City Hall and in the City of London will be closed.

Dr Audrey de Nazelle, from Imperial College London, said: “Being aware of the scale of air pollution health problems is not enough. Actually living the joys of a car-free or car-less city will do much more to create a positive vision of what a future healthy London could be like.”  

Mr Khan, in a veiled attack on the 15 boroughs which are refusing to participate, said: “Hopefully this will shame into life those boroughs with outdated views who are dragging their feet.”



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