Air quality and pollution

We’re working hard to improve London’s air through the Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy 'Clearing the air'. We want our city be one of the cleanest and greenest in the world. This will help ensure everyone who lives here can enjoy a great quality of life and attract jobs and investment.

London's air quality has much improved in recent years, however there’s still work to be done.

To find out how we’ll make London’s air even cleaner, see the Mayor's Air Quality Strategy (PDF4.98MB).

The Transport Emissions Roadmap (TERM) strategy shows how we plan to reduce emissions from transport.

Working with Transport for London, we will:

To reduce emissions from buildings and developments we are:

  • making 55,000 homes more energy efficient through the RE:NEW programme and 400 public buildings through the RE:FIT programme, saving tonnes of oxides of nitrogen and carbon dioxide
  • cleaning construction and demolition sites to improve local air pollution
  • putting air quality at the forefront of planning

Air quality is the responsibility of all of us. Find out what you can do to improve London’s air quality and help us all breathe better together.

You can also sign up for alerts when there’s high pollution in your area and find out what steps you can take to protect yourself when this happens via our twitter feeds https://twitter.com/airTEXT_central http://www.airtext.info/

Working together to improve air quality

We work with lots of organisations to prevent pollution and improve London’s air quality including:

Sustrans

Transport for London (TfL) Low Emission Zone

airTEXT

Walkit

London Air

Daily Air Quality Index

Air pollution and health

Air pollution refers to substances in the air that harm human health, welfare, plant or animal life. Most pollution in London is caused by road transport and domestic and commercial heating systems.

The UK Air Quality Standards Regulations (external website) 2000 sets standards for a number of pollutants than can harm human health and the environment. These are based on EU limit values (external website) and include:

  • Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
  • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOX)
  • Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5)
  • Lead
  • Benzene
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Benzo(a)pyrene
  • Ozone (O3)

In London, most of these pollutants are not at levels that affect human health. In fact, levels of all except one have decreased between 1996 and 2011. You can read more about air quality and health at World Health Organisation (WHO) and  Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants

Monitoring air pollution

London’s air quality is constantly monitored at around 100 different locations. These sites are operated and funded by London boroughs. The Cleaner Air for London website (external website) records real time and historical monitoring data.

Despite cuts in most pollutants, levels of PM10 and NO2 are still too high in some areas of London. We are working hard to reduce concentrations of these pollutants. However, one particular problem is that around 30-40 per cent of air pollution comes from sources outside Greater London.

To find out more about London’s air pollution watch the videos from Kings Environment Research Group, or follow London Air and Ricardo-AEA.

Air quality – what can your business do?

Just by taking small steps, together we can make a big difference to London’s air quality.
Below are a few ways you can help

  • Buy or hire the cleanest motor vehicles available
  • Develop travel plans to encourage employees to use public transport, walk or cycle.
  • If employees must drive as part of their jobs, organise eco-driving training for them.
  • Install workplace energy efficiency measures.
  • Freight operators should sign up to TfL's Freight Operator Recognition Scheme.

Who can help?

Smoke control and exempt appliances

London boroughs are responsible for smoke control. The government has published a list of appliances that are exempt from smoke control orders when using specific fuels and operated in a certain way.

Construction and demolition work

Building works create air pollution that damages people’s health, wellbeing and the local environment. For construction/demolition sites, please give details of where the site is and the problem. If the construction/demolition site is part of the Considerate Constructors scheme you can also report it on freephone: 0800 783 1423.

Taxi and bus engine idling

You can report examples of taxi and bus idling by calling Transport for London on 0843 222 1234.

Regulation and permits

Local councils must provide permits (where suitable) and regulate certain types of factories and other activities like dry cleaners and petrol stations (Part B installations) to reduce the pollution they cause.
Larger and more complex installations (known as Part A1) are regulated by the Environment Agency

Working with European partners

We are investing £1.1bn through London’s European Structural Funds programme.

City Hall is also part of the Air Quality Initiative of the Regions (AIR Group) of 12 EU regions who want to improve local air quality. The group is focused on sharing best practice and lobbying EU institutions for more funding and EU-level action.

We have also been taking part  the joint air quality initiative (JOAQUIN)

You can find important documents and presentations here.