Annual air pollution limits for 2017 in the city of London have been breached just 5 days into the year. The hourly levels of nitrogen oxide must not be higher than 200 micrograms per cubic meter more than 18 times in the year, which has already been broken this early into the year.
The levels of pollution in the capital has been a huge concern to health professionals, with pollution causing a number of serious illnesses. It is believed that one in ten cases of Alzheimer’s disease can be linked to pollution and pollutants have also been linked to cancer. People living with other serious illnesses such as Asthma will also have stronger symptoms such as shortness of breath. This puts a lot of stress on the UK’s NHS, costing billions of pounds every year. If the pollution problem wasn’t as bad experts say this bill would be massively reduced and allow the NHS to spend the money on other key areas.
The large amount of Nitrogen Oxide in the air is caused mainly by the number of diesel vehicles on the road. With diesel vehicles being more fuel efficient than their petrol alternatives, a lot of families and businesses opt for them when choosing a vehicle.
There have been a number of ideas put forward to decrease the amount of pollution in cities such as London, one idea is to introduce clean air zones. The clean air zones will ban diesel vehicles from driving in city centres. It is hoped that these clean air zones will also make diesel cars less attractive to buyers, as they will not be able to drive in certain areas. Other industry experts are calling for much stronger action by banning diesel cars from the UK’s roads all together, which would be done by phasing them out from 2025 onwards. However, this is much less likely due to the number of people that own diesel vehicles.
It is believed that the government will start to increase the amount of road tax imposed on diesel cars, which may encourage people to buy alternatives such as electric cars. However, while none of these solutions have been tested yet, it is unknown if they will have an effect on the levels of pollution in cities such as London.