I Like Clean Air worked with environmental NGO ClientEarth to measure nitrogen dioxide levels in playgrounds and streets in South Hackney.
We put 55 tubes up for four weeks in October 2014. We found that all main roads tested were significantly above the maximum limit considered safe for human health. 26 out of 55 locations breached the World Health Organisation guidelines and legal limits. Most of these were at least 25% over and the highest was outside Hackney Town Hall which was 157% over the limit.
Due to the worrying results of our pollution monitoring we are now looking to expand to six new schools and nurseries in South Hackney and re-run the pollution monitoring at those schools in the new year.
Nitrogen dioxide is a pollutant caused mainly by diesel vehicles. Children and the elderly are most vulnerable to its effects. It causes reduced lung function, heart disease, inflammation of the airways and an increase in hospitalisations for respiratory problems. It also strongly indicates the presence of ‘diesel particulate matter’ which is a class 1 carcinogen no amount of which is considered safe.
The government’s own plans show that the legal limits designed to protect our health will not be met until 2030.
Queen Mary University in London is leading research on the health impacts of air pollution in London. The EXHALE programme (Exploration of Health and Lungs in the Environment) has taken data from children in Hackney and Tower Hamlets for the past four years to better understand the impact on children’s growth and development.