please empty your brain below

On high pollution days diesel cars should not be allowed. I think Paris has tried this.
Unfortunately London gets some of its air pollution from Continental Europe if the wind is from the East. So Europe wide action needs to be taken regarding diesel car emissions.
Lucky we do not live in that polluted French countryside, according to DEFRA map!
Yesterday I had already completed my daily walk to and from work (7 mile round trip) before I saw the news and warnings. Question is, would it be healthier overall to give up this daily exercise and catch the bus or tube, I rather suspect not.

Personally I think the congestion charge zone should be extended and that weekends should be chargeable too. The roads are noticeably more clogged up round my way on Saturdays and Sundays when it's free.
I'm always suspicious of this, remembering when its was all coal fires, steam engines, everyone seemed to smoke etc. etc., don't forget that the slang term for London was 'the smoke', and I haven't mentioned the 'pea soupers'.

Yet life expectancy increased, unless they smoked - in other words unless they made a deliberate effort to fill their lungs with toxic stuff.
Do - Please do not be so alarmed. The air quality meter in Wallington is conveniently situated immediately on the edge of the pavement behind the downhill bus stop lay by, less than two metres from the exhaust pipes of all the buses that stop there. Specifically, the A237 Woodcote Road, ~100m up from the railway bridge.

No one in their right minds would ever stand at this point, and there is a wide pavement between this monitoring station and the row of shops. Given the efficiency of modern engines and exhaust systems I can't help but wonder that we, the public, are once again being taken for fools, and what the real agenda is.

Perhaps you could make this your next quest to visit all of these. In the interim perhaps you could source an image of this one and add it to your article, so that everyone can judge for themselves. The concentration of particulates just a few metres from here will be a tiny fraction of the measured amount, a 4.5m cube of air being a 99% reduction in volume of the cubic metre around the device, etc.
Do please be alarmed. It is estimated that air pollution is a factor in 40,000 early deaths each year in the UK. 40,000! A good sized stadium full of people. Particularly bad in central London, of course.

Yes, it was much worse in the past. The 5-day "pea-souper" of 1952 is estimated to have killed 12,000 people.
My father lived in London in the early 1950’s, he always said there were three types of air in London, you could either see it, or taste it, or even chew it.
In the recent frosty mornings, I've noticed quite a few neighbours idling for 5-10 minutes to get their heaters running to clear their windscreens. I'm sure that's not helping. Nor was the owner of the van who filled the street with thick plumes of exhaust from his malfunctioning diesel engine.

I think they really need to work on their communications if they want to get people to take the pollution problem seriously.
I've often wondered why you chose to live (continue to live) where you do. I would be put off not just by the air pollution but also by noise and light pollution.
I was in London during the smogs of the 1950's. You could see and smell the pollution back then.
Diesel engine particulate emissions are tiny, we do not see or smell the harmful particles damaging our lungs now.
One of the things that VW's diesel scandal has revealed is that manufacturers are allowed to bypass emissions controls in "cold weather" situations. It transpired that some cars interpret "cold weather" to be anything below 15C, meaning that their emissions controls are non-functional for the majority of the year in the UK!
I've ridden buses and tubes and haven't seen any warnings on those either. The only message I've seen has been on a roadside display near Kew Bridge.
I've just discovered another source of local data - Air Quality England. They've got monitoring points in a handful of London boroughs, including Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest.

And the one I cycled past en route to work is reading 8. Grand.
Strange then that the mayor's office is so concerned that their new buses don't meet the required emissions and also they keep on licencing 600 private hire drivers every week.
"I wonder how many drivers, and potential drivers, noticed and/or acted on that advice"

I wonder in particular how many tfl BUS drivers heeded the warning.

Many times I've sat on a bus with the announcement "this bus will wait for a while to change drivers". I've timed it and I've watched it. It takes at least 3 minutes of faffing around. Not once have I ever seen a driver switch the engine off.

The mayor should put his mouth firmly into gear and tell *TFL* to set an example and switch their engines off whenever drivers are changed, at level crossings and in all other circumstances where a wait is expected.
@harry: While London buses do not have the necessity of running air-conditioning, having a bus off engine might disable the info system, and / or make passengers think the bus has broken down or ended the journey.
Oh, I'm sure it'll be alright.
There was a report the other day that suggested within the central London congestion charging zone, car use had continued to drop, but pollution had increased because now most of the traffic is commercial (vans, buses, coaches, lorries) and road capacity had reduced due to things like the cycle superhighway and road works. Most of that traffic is essential (can you see a builder bringing all their tools on a bus?) and is almost all diesel engines. So I am not sure what the solution is. Trolley buses, maybe? Do any companies make electric or petrol vans or lorries (I don't think that they do).
Only when the entire London bus fleet, all taxis/cabs and every home delivery vehicle is "zero-emissions", that we can start to talk about actually cleaning the air in London. It not going to happen by 2020, i doubt it will by 2030...and by 2040 it'll probably be too late!
@jom combe

Harrods were using electric delivery vans 100 years ago, and when most people had their milk delivered it was usually by electric power. A quick Google identified at least half a dozen electrically powered light vans on the market. The problem, as with all electric vehicles, is the length of time they have to spend on charge, and not earning their keep. But you do see them around, especially in central London.
electric vehicles might be low on emissions at point of use, but where does the electricity come from ... I've often thought electric vehicles are just shifting the emissions from one place to another
Just looked at the LondonAir sight and it looks as though south of Sidcup and east of Croydon is also the place to be! We don't even get rated a 'one' on the scale!
I expect to see the opening of some new TB/chest disease clinics around here very soon. "Come to Breezy Bromley and smell the Ozone!" 😂😂
(Oh,excuse me,are these your coughed-up lungs sir?). 😉

Of course, if the electricity is generated by combustion you are moving the emissions from one place to the other, but if you are moving them from ground level in a heavily populated area to high level, where it can be dispersed sparesly over a wide area, that is surely an improvement.
Between 1976 and 1979 I cycled from Southfields to the City. One evening the fog was so bad at the Elephant and Castle roundabout that I shouted at a person to move, only to discover that the 'person' was a lamp post! Is it as bad now as 40 years ago or are we just more aware? The 1952 killer smog lead to various Clean Air Acts as I recall.
Jon Combe - where is the data that says these journeys are essential? How did people manage before the engine?!

I think tradesmen should be more organised - the closest plumber, for example, should be assigned the job.

The embankment now carries more people in the peak hours than ever before thanks to the CSH.
"The embankment now carries more people in the peak hours than ever before thanks to the CSH" [Elswick]

Yeah, and thanks to the CSH... most of them aren't moving!!! :(
The question of whether air pollution is as bad today as it was 40 years ago is (a) impossible to answer, and (b) irrelevant. (a) is because it is different pollutants, affecting different people in different ways. (b) is because no-one has the choice of living today or living 40 years ago.

The choice we might have, if we can focus our minds on it and not get distracted by history, is between one level of pollution today (and tomorrow), and a different level which we might achieve by changing some rules. There will, however, be a financial cost to someone, and most someones are not very keen on this.
@Timbo: electric delivery vehicles can be charged overnight, when demand is otherwise low.
@Malcolm: I understand most of your points and totally agree your comments about the way forward but re a) if you define pollution in terms of its impact on people as a whole surely if estimated deaths now are half those 40 years ago, then matters have improved. Whether enough is a separate issue. What matters here is surely 'outcomes' rather than the 'process'. Re. b) I do not really follow. You are right in stating that we do not have a choice of when we live but 'irrelevant' is the wrong word. If we compare life today with life 40 years ago, there are many parameters to consider. Personally, I think life is generally better but there are many parameters where various people might say the opposite: overcrowding/housing issues and the rise of terrorism in the Western world might be 2 such parameters. You rightly mention costs. Some people might say that the current level of pollution as measured by deaths it supposedly causes is acceptable because the marginal cost of reducing the number is too high, when compared with what else the money might be spent on. Finally I would say that any historical measure is relevant to an extent because people judge their personal circumstance by reference both to the actual past and the anticipated future.
Get over it. There has been pollution since the beginning of time, lots created by natural events such as fires and volcanoes. Stone age man had polluting fires as well!

All these people dying of this and that pollutant? Lets get modern medicine to stop us living so long and dying of things that our ancestors were never likely to get to?
The fact that we breed creates pollution. Stop it all by stopping humans having children, and all human pollution will be down to zero inside 100 years. That will be far more productive than any G xx Accord.

In the mean time I am going to stoke my beautiful coal fire that keeps me warm and comfy, and if the weak and sickly pass away, then that is how the rest of nature works.
Thanks to the one person who answered the question "What is the best way to find out about air pollution in your immediate locality?", I now have this link for air quality in Tower Hamlets.

Thanks martin!

Electric delivery vehicles, like those formerly used by Harrods, or milk floats, can indeed be charged overnight. Vehicles with regular rounds, like milk floats, are articulately suitable for this because the amount of charge each one needs is known in advance, and the shortening of battery life caused by charging a half-full battery can be avoided.

Being on charge and therefore unavailable for eight hours in 24 is less acceptable for an on-call plumber, or a business which uses the van to collect fresh stock from New Covent Garden/ Smithfield/ Billingsgate overnight and then (with a different driver) to make deliveries to customers during the day.
And charging is not practical anyway unless you have off-street parking.

But as I said, there are electric vans on the market - probably more than people realise as many look the second as their IC counterparts + but they are not yet practical for all tradesmen.

@Roger. It depends whether you count the number of people on the length of the Embankment at a given instant in time, or the number of people passing a given point over a period of time. If the traffic is stationary, but the cyclists are flowing freely, there will be more motorists on the Embankment, but more cyclists passing through in a given time- because on the next time interval a new lot of cyclists will pass through, but the motorists tjere will be the same ones as before!
@Timbo - it was milk floats I was thinking of. Parker Dairies of Walthamstow still have a sizeable fleet of them (they deliver to us), but are facing eviction, and are struggling to find new premises for their depot in a location that would be in milk float-range of their customer base.
Bizarre. There seems to be far, far less monitoring in my local area than there used to be. There used to be a small tube strapped to a lamppost on many roads in Watford. I counted at least 10 monitoring sites, which provided monthly figures for NO2, CO and PM10. The data used to be on a website linked from the council home page. Now there's just the one automated station outside the town hall. And that's supplying data for the whole of the borough. Strikes me that air quality monitoring is a major casualty of cutbacks.
If you have a smartphone you can get a personal air pollution monitor from CleanSpace - (I have no affiliation)
They are £50, but I got one for free by filling in the form here: - you might be able to do the same...
You get a monitor that syncs with your phone, and the data you collect helps contribute to the bigger picture. Seems to work well, although I think it drains the battery on my phone if I leave it switched on all the time. Also the app doesn't have an 'alert' type feature to warn you of high levels.

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