London's air pollution crisis: the government must do more
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Some 9,000 Londoners will needlessly lose their lives in 2017. A killer is on the loose. Weaving its way through the darkened streets of Central London. Anyone is a target. You’d be forgiven for mistaking this as an opening line of a Sherlock Holmes investigation. Or a history book into the life of London’s most infamous murderer, Jack the Ripper. The culprit is in fact among us, day by day, an omnipresent force that is everywhere but cannot be seen. London’s air pollution crisis is to blame, now at its worst level since the 1952 toxic fog disaster, and the lives and health of citizens across the capital are now at risk. In an age of advancements with eco-friendly cars and machines, a Central London congestion charge, and a relatively efficient public transport system. It seems crazy to suggest that air quality is worse for Londoners now than it arguably ever has been. With Particulate Matter (PM) at double the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and air pollution exceeding that of smog-infested Beijing on 23rd January of this year, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan must act now to prevent serious harm or death to the civilians, workers and children inhabiting his city. On average 9,000 lives are lost per year in the capital as a result of poor air quality, with 8.3% of deaths in Kensington and Chelsea attributable to the quality of air in the surrounding area. Figures like this are comparable to lives lost in the whole of the Ukraine Conflict and the 2015 Nepal earthquake. It is a figure that would equate to six Titanic sinkings, and is three times the figure of the lives lost in the worst terrorist attack on US soil on September 11th 2001. Two historic events which led to a dramatic change in perceptions and safety measures. The 1956 Clean Air Act, introduced by Parliament after the 1952 smog crisis, led to the development of smoke control areas where only smokeless fuels could be burned. The act also pushed to relocate power stations away from cities and for chimney heights to be increased to push the smog away from Central London.
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