Scientists at London Air Quality Network claim that capital has seen worst pollution over last 48 hours since 2006 smog episode
London was hit by ‘widespread’ pollution over the last 48 hours, leading to some of the highest ozone and PM10 readings since the July 2006 heatwave, air quality experts have said.
But, the situation is expected to improve over the next few days as the weather cools down, just in time for the Olympics.
Readings taken by the London Air Quality Network, run by scientists at Kings College London, between Tuesday (July 24) and Thursday (July 26) show that very high readings of particulate matter (PM10) were charted in Greenwich, East London.
The problems were also felt in the West of the city, with high levels of ozone charted in North Kensington, as well as a high reading of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) around Putney High Street, along the route of Saturday’s Olympic cycling road race, which has continued into today.
The readings followed warnings by Defra that London was braced for an incidence of high pollution on Wednesday.
The high pollution levels in the capital are thought to have been caused by the hot weather that has swept the country, intensifying the impact of pollution from traffic fumes. Temperatures reached a peak of 31 degrees C, although cooler weather is forecast for the next week and is expected to ease the level of pollutants in the air.
In its report on the incident, LAQN said: “These are the greatest widespread ground level ozone concentrations measured in south-east England since the July 2006 heatwave. The importance here is not only the magnitude of the concentrations but also their widespread nature – it’s not a single monitoring site.â€?
London was hit by a similar episode of high pollution when temperatures soared in July 2006, which saw high readings of PM10, ozone and NO2 taken at air quality monitoring stations across the city.
A spokeswoman for Defra said: “Ozone levels go up when we have a period of hot, still weather, as we have had in the last few days. We expect this to change as the weather cools down.â€?
Health advice issued by the government recommends that adults and children with lung or heart problems avoid strenuous physical exertion outdoors during episodes of high pollution. It also states that members of the general population may also experience symptoms such as sore eyes, a cough or a sore throat as a result of the high pollution levels.
In the wake of the incident, Simon Birkett, director of the air quality campaign group Clean Air in London, called on the government to disclose daily air quality bulletins, set to be sent from the government to organisers of the Olympic Games to the public.
He said: “This is the worst ‘summer smog’ for years. The Government must ensure people are warned and advised.
“It must also publish the full forecast information that is included in daily briefings to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) so that athletes and teams can make their own assessment of potential health risks.
“The Mayor must act personally to protect athletes, visitors and Londoners if the Government continues to fail to do so.â€?