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London Mayor calls for immediate air alerts

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called for people to be alerted immediately when air pollution levels are at dangerous levels in the capital.

Mr Khan was speaking after King’s College London figures indicated that warnings should have been issued on more than 100 occasions about air pollution since 2014.

The Saharan Dust episode two-and-a-half-years-ago led to air pollution climbing to moderate or higher levels 49 times.

The London ambulance service reported a 14 per cent rise in patients with respiratory issues, breathing difficulties, asthma and heart problems phoning 999.

Mr Khan said: “These figures show that on numerous occasions, Londoners could have been given better, higher profile warnings and taken action to limit their exposure during episodes of extremely high pollution.

london air quality

Alerts for London residents have been discussed

“There are of course times when air quality incidents are not man-made such as the Saharan Dust incident and could not have been prevented with measures such as cleaner buses and a wider ultra low emission zone.”

And, the London mayor pledged to take action. He said: “I will do everything humanly possible to put the well-being of Londoners first and will be taking robust steps to clean up the capital’s filthy air and drive down the number of days when air quality is dangerously high.

“In the short term, I want to ensure Londoners are given clear information and advice during these episodes, when they can take practical measures to protect their health.”

Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, backed the mayor’s call.

She said: “We fully support the mayor’s plans to improve air quality in London. According to the latest figures from the Health Survey for England – toxic air affects nearly 600,000 people living in the capital with asthma. We urgently need significant into asthma research to find practical solutions to this invisible killer and we need governments across the UK to take action to reduce pollution levels.”

The mayor also revealed the measures he will be consulting on soon as part of his bid to bring air pollution levels back under control.

These areas include:

  • Extending the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) to the North Circular Road and the South Circular Road and the possibility of bring forward the introduction earlier than 2020.
  • Implementing an extra charge on the most polluting vehicles entering central London using the congestion charge payment and enforcement system from 2017.
  • Introducing ULEZ standards for heavy vehicles London-wide from 2020.
  • Giving the go ahead for Transport for London to start work on the costs and challenges of implementing a diesel scrappage scheme as part of a wider national scheme delivered by the government.

As well as proposals to work with the government to tackle air pollution on a national and international level.

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