Report presses London to curb diesel-related air pollution

St.Paul's London

In the UK, a newly released report from the London Assembly Environment Committee examines London’s efforts to cut pollution from diesel cars, lorries, buses and taxis.

Titled “Driving away from diesel: Reducing air pollution from diesel vehicles”, the report focuses on the impact of diesel vehicles on London’s air quality and blames the combustion of diesel for much of the capital’s air pollution problems.

The publication notes that diesel-powered vehicles alone are responsible for around 40 percent of London’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and partly blames government polices to encourage more fuel-efficient vehicles for indirectly incentivizing diesel use. This drive to dieselize fleets in Britain has left “a generation of dirty vehicles on our roads”, the Environment Committee states. The dieselization of the vehicle fleet is also continuing: 50 percent of all cars sold last year in the UK were diesel, compared to about 30 percent ten years ago.

London's air pollution is "illegal"

Most large cities around the world suffer from dangerously high levels of pollution, but some parts of London are among the most polluted in Europe. The pollutants of most concern include tiny particles (fine particulate matter, PM2.5 and PM10) and the gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which are both emitted by diesel vehicles.

London’s pollution levels are also “illegal”: in April the UK Supreme Court ordered the government to take immediate action to tackle the dangerously high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) found in the UK. The World Health Organization, for example, estimates the cost of particulate pollution at more than GBP 50 billion across the UK. This air pollution is also a public health hazard, increasing deaths and poor health and leading to possible low birth weights, strokes, heart and lung diseases, brain ageing and cancer.

Recommendations to reduce air pollution breaches

The Environment Committee’s report makes recommendations to reduce diesel pollution in London and ensure NO2 compliance to clean up the city’s air quality.

“The challenge is to phase out high-polluting diesel vehicles while providing infrastructure and incentives to support the uptake of cleaner-low-emission alternatives,” the report states. The recommendations to the Mayor of London and central government include the introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) before 2020, a scrappage scheme linked to replacing non-compliant vehicles with low-emission vehicles, and zero-emission capable taxis, such as electric cars, starting in 2018.

Filtration improves IAQ in cities with air pollution

Outdoor air is typically used as supply air for the ventilation systems of buildings, and when it is polluted in large cities like London, effective air filters are needed in air handling units to remove harmful gases and particles and maintain high indoor air quality (IAQ). In cities with severe air pollution, room air purifiers can also be used as an extra filtration measure.

To meet urban IAQ needs, Camfil offers the City range of air filters and room air purifiers for both particle removal and molecular filtration. In addition to improving IAQ, the high energy efficiency ratings of Camfil’s air handling unit filters, as documented by Eurovent’s new energy classification system, also help building owners reduce energy costs for operating ventilation systems.

Image copyright ©Simon Birkett, Clean air in London

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