Air pollution in dirty London is at an illegally high level


Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in Marylebone were almost four times the EU’s legal limit.

The UCL project was analysing pollution across central London

The social enterprise Mapping for Change’s Air Quality Monitoring project involved a UCL led investigation into the levels of NO2 in certain areas of London in July this year.

Anyone got a gas mask?

Anyone got a gas mask?

These results found Marylebone Road wielded a staggering 145 micrograms per cubic metres (µg/m3) of air, well surpassing the EU legal limit of 40 µg/m3 and Shaftesbury Avenue was closely behind at 119 µg/m3.

The exceedingly high levels have yet to deter young and enthusiastic freshers, unperturbed fresher Joe Townshend said: “We’re not as bad as China.”

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution is mainly produced by cars and even short term exposure to the gas can cause a range of respiratory problems, such as inflammation of the airways and increased symptoms in asthmatics.



UCL’s Louise Francis, CEO and co-founder of Mapping for Change, said these results are only a snapshot of the true levels of air pollution – as levels are slightly lower during holiday periods.

Francis also recommends nipping down London’s side roads while walking around rather than taking the main roads to reduce your intake of NO2.

Matthew Pencharz, deputy Mayor for environment and energy said “NO2 remains a problem. We have now seen a 12% decrease in measured NO2 across London showing we are making real progress.”

In order to further such progress, an Ultra Low Emission Zone is being introduced in London in 2020 which will mean only zero and low emission vehicles can roam central London.

Pollution levels are criminal

Pollution levels are criminal

However Public Health England has suggested 3,000 people per year are estimated to die from the heavily polluted London air, meaning air pollution will be the second biggest cause of death, second only to smoking.

Fresher Tamsin Goulding-Yee said: “Everyone might as well carry on smoking then.”