BY TOBY PORTER
Bad air quality often can’t be seen or even smelt, but one thing is for certain, it is affecting our health.
Thousands of Londoners die prematurely as a result of air pollution across the capital.
Air pollution includes particulate matter (PM) made up of airborne particles including dust, soot and drops of poisonous liquid.
It also includes nitrogen dioxide which can cause asthma and bronchitis, and impacts on lung function.
Croydon council’s Air Quality Action Plan 2017-22 identifies a ‘focus area’ of five places in the borough which were failing to meet the EU’s annual average limit for nitrogen dioxide – 40 micrograms per cubic metre.
These are, London Road, Norbury; Purley Cross and Russell Hill, Thornton Heath; Brigstock Road/High Street/Whitehorse Lane; London Road between Thornton Heath Road and St James Road; and Wellesley Road.
Croydon council published its annual air quality stats for 2018 this summer.
There are a total of 18 monitoring sites in the borough. And at six of the roadside monitors the 40mg per cubic metre limit was exceeded.
But this was down from eight locations in 2017.
The following are the top five places with the most air pollution in 2018 (mg per cubic metre). Wellesley Road, Northbound – 67.82; London Road, Norbury – 53.43; Purley Fire Station, Brighton Road – 52.70; Park Lane – 50.80; and Park Lane, Northbound – 49.82.
In the summer Croydon celebrated World Car Free Day and council officers carried out anti-idling patrols in the borough.
At the time Councillor Stuart King, cabinet for environment and transport, said: “We’re working hard to improve air quality across Croydon with a host of initiatives including the well-received School Streets schemes across the borough.”
The aim of school streets is to improve road safety and air quality.
It means that part of a street outside a school is only open to pedestrians and cyclists at the start and end of the school day. And any cars driving in the zone could be issued with a fine.
The council is also trying to control the pollution from new developments by tackling emissions from construction sites and vehicles.
It is also trying to work with Public Health England to raise awareness of air quality and encouraging people to walk and cycle more.
Earlier this year the Mayor of London introduced the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) within the same area that the congestion charge operates.