Camden council has this week passed a resolution aiming to reduce particulate air pollution in the borough, in line with levels recommended as safe by the World Health Organization.
This would see the council go beyond current legal standards which are enshrined in UK law through European Air Quality Directives.
The World Health Organizationâ€™s ambient air quality guideline limits for the emission of particulate matter, which are based upon studies into the health impacts of exposure to elements such as sulphate, nitrates, ammonia and sodium chloride.
The guideline values state that there is a risk of potential harm to health if PM2.5 levels exceed an annual mean of 10 Î¼g/m3. For PM10 WHO recommends a maximum annual mean limit of 20 Î¼g/m3.
This would go beyond current levels set out in law under the EUâ€™s Air Quality Directive, which sets a mandatory 25 Î¼g/m3 PM2.5 target, alongside a 40 Î¼g/m3 objective for PM10 and which are currently met in Camden, the council says.
Sources of PM2.5 and PM10 include tyre and break wear from road transport as well as emissions from wood burning.
Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet Member for Improving Camden’s Environment said: â€œThe current measures risk suggesting to the public that the level of Particulate Matter in our air is acceptable; it is not. The new, more stringent, limits we have adopted are a better reflection of the danger that Particulate Matter poses to us all.
â€œCleaning up Londonâ€™s air is one of the major challenges of our era. To really make progress, we need to be honest about how serious the problem is and then collectively throw all our weight and efforts behind driving air pollution right down.
â€œWe know that we cannot reach the WHO limits on our own, but want to work with people living and working in Camden and the Mayor of London to strive towards these. There is no safe level of Particulate Matter, but there are many more things that we can do.â€
A timeframe for the introduction of this tougher standard has yet to be outlined, although it is thought that this would come into effect sooner than the Mayor of Londonâ€™s proposal, outlined in the draft London Environment Strategy, to meet WHO goals for particulates by 2030 (see airqualitynews.com story).