You need clean Air!by Alexander on September 10th, 2013
Information is power. But sometimes if you are actually powerless information isn’t necessarily wanted.
About a year ago, some friends of mine told me that over 4000 people in London died a year as a result of the air pollution in London. We are now getting back to where we were in 1956 when London last had smogs. As a result the NHS is spending 2 billion pounds a year dealing with the damage coursed by air pollution.
You might read that and think what I did at first. “Ok, great thanks for that, but as air pollution is all around me and I can’t get away from it then, there is really little I can do? So I am going to ignore that.”
But Wait. Things aren’t quite as bad as that. The fantastic news is that there a few steps you can take, if you want to avoid this menace. Jenny Jones, Green Party Member of the London Assembly and her team have done some really excellent work and produced this helpful website.
It is not the most sophisticated tool in the world. I don’t think they had any funding to do it. It is just cobbled together from information they obtained using freedom of information requests. (I apologies if I am not giving credit where credit is due but) I believe the map was built by my friend Tom Chance, who did the maps on the Wine Rides website.
You may be pleased to learn that you can view this Map: http://www.howpollutedismyroad.org.uk/roads.php and have a quick look to see if your route to work takes you through any of the black sections of road. These are the places in London were your exposure to pollution is dangerous. If you currently, regularly spend time on the sections of road that are black you might think about changing your route to work, or adjusting your habits slightly to avoid these areas. If you are unlucky enough to work in an office that is in one of these black areas, then you are well within your rights to ask your employer to make sure they have the correct flitters on any Air conditioning system.
The issue with air pollution at the moment is that modern vehicle engines are producing very tiny particles that are not visible to the naked eye. These tiny particles get deep into our lungs and are coated with some really strange metallic compounds. Because they are so small they pass easily into the blood resulting in breathing and heart difficulties as well as cancers.
These things are not easy to put together, I couldn’t do it but they have also taken the time to look at which schools, are within 150m of a road that carries 10,000 vehicles a day about 7 per minuet. All other things being equal, if two schools are the same, then you should probably try and get your kids into a school that is not close to one of these roads.
However in London that doesn’t look that easy to me? Just looking at the bit of London I live in Crystal Palace, these schools seem to be effected buy unhealthy levels of pollution: St. Josephs Rc Junior School, Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School, St. Josephs Infant School, Norwood School, All Saints School, Cypress Junior School, St. Anthony Rc School, Malcolm Primary School, Sydenham High School, Kelvin Grove Primary & Nursery School, Royston Primary School.
As far as I can tell near me the only school that doesn’t appear to be affected and is more the 150m from a road carrying more than 10, 000 cars a day is Harris City Academy Crystal Palace. I am not a parent yet so I don’t know much about the academic success of these schools, but Harris looks like the place to get your kids in if you don’t want them exposed to too much pollution.
To be honest, I was totally in two minds about writing this blog. I may live to regret it. My Blog is only supposed to contain things that interest and attract people who may be potential customers for Wine Rides. As my trips are over 18’s only and at the moment we are not open to family’s I probably should have stuck with the one I was going to write about the pros and cons of cycling in lycra. But I suppose in the end I couldn’t reconcile my feelings about this matter. I hope I can make a small contribution and help the London Green party and http://cleanairinlondon.org/ spread their important message.
I am not one for bashing the Mayor. I don’t like to be politically partisan, but it has been alleged that the current administration in London is spraying particle suppressing compounds near the air pollution monitoring stations. If this is true they are trying to artificially reduce the measurement of pollution in London without actually reducing particle emissions. If that turns out to be true, it could be quite a damaging fraud. Particularly as the EU rules on pollution are there to protect our health. They are not trivial.
They need to ban diesel cars on certain roads where the invisible smog hangs around as these are emitting the most pollution. But who knows how long it will take them to summon the political will to do that. I would like them to turn many of the grid locked 4 lane trunk roads into leafy urban parks and vastly accelerate the development of public transport in the capital, but the least the mayor could do for now, is give Londoners smog warnings on days when it is particularly bad. I would even say they have a moral obligation to develop SatNav plugins for smart phones that will enable us to navigate, around these particularly bad areas as we travel around London.
The responsible thing to do is make the information more accessible to people on the move so we can try and stay healthy while we wait for real change.
If you want to help then please spread the word by sharing this blog, or tweet at the Mayor and tell him to get his act together on this.
E.g. @mayoroflondon what are you doing to sort this the air pollution out? http://bit.ly/14hspkG