LONDON, July 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
"There is a 'perfect storm' of concerns about London's air pollution in the run up to the Olympics" says Simon Birkett, Founder and Director, of Clean Air in London (CAL) (http://www.cleanairinlondon.org).
Annual mean levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a toxic gas, are more than twice the legal limit and World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline near London busiest roads. NO2 levels in London were the highest of any capital city in Europe in 2010 and comparable with those in Beijing before it took action for the 2008 Olympics.
Air pollution matters. The Mayor has estimated 4,267 deaths were attributable to long-term exposure to 'invisible' airborne particles in London in 2008 which is similar to the 4,075 from short-term exposure to air pollution during the Great Smog of 1952 (when we knew nothing of long-term impacts). Only smoking causes more early deaths.
Over a year ago, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) disclosed that congestion from the Olympic Route Network would cause 'temporary and local breaches' of air pollution laws. Traditionally these impacts have been mitigated during Games-time by an 'odd and even' number plate ban, as in Beijing, or the 'Big Scare' which plays 'mind-games' with drivers. CAL has argued unsuccessfully for one or more inner low emission zones to mitigate impacts.
Lord Coe wrote to CAL in April 2008 setting out a bold and positive vision for air quality during the Olympics. Birkett said: "Frankly, Lord Coe and the ODA have done the best possible within their powers to deliver on this vision. But, so far, Mayor Johnson has let down the organisers and Londoners by opting for pollution suppressants to tackle traffic hotspots and the Big Scare backed by hundreds or perhaps thousands of local traffic restrictions. Londoners and visitors are likely to be infuriated by these restrictions."
Birkett said: "The Olympic organisers have made London ready for the world. But the Mayor and the Government must play their part and then ensure a wonderful legacy from the Olympics".
About Clean Air in London
Clean Air in London (CAL) manages a cross-party campaign to achieve urgently and sustainably full compliance with WHO guidelines for air quality throughout London (and elsewhere).
SOURCE Clean Air in London