No to NO2
The devil is in the diesel
With the arrival of the New Year our minds often look to a more optimistic year ahead: 2024 will be the year we learn a new language, a new dance* or perhaps try and get to the gym more often. Here at Air Aware we have been looking despondently at the air quality stats from our local Breathe London air quality node.
A simple measure is the number of times the WHO daily limits for PM2.5 (particulates) and NO2 have been breached. The WHO also recommend that the daily limits are breached no more than three to four times per year. The data from our node shows that we broke this guideline for NO2 breaches within the first week of 2024. Well done Brixton! 👏 The campaigning lawyers at ClientEarth were complaining about this back in 2016 when the annual rate on Brixton Road was 128 micrograms per cubic metre, which appears to have reduced, but still not low enough.
If you can’t stand the heatmap…
Another informative visualisation that we have shown before is a heatmap. This averages data over a period of time and groups it by hour and by day. The heatmap below is for the last 30 days from our local Brixton node. You can see PM2.5 is fairly steady apart from specific flare-ups, but NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) is quite high between 7am and 8pm Tuesday to Friday, correlating with traffic volumes. As a reminder of the effects of NO2, have a look at last week’s post.
There are certainly a lot of cars being driven around St Matthew's church. We don't know how many are electric, petrol or diesel but if any diesel cars are still circulating, we have a problem. As the Mums for Lungs campaign on Ditch Diesel points out, this is the biggest source of NO2 on our roads. They link to a study from Imperial College with a particular focus on London, pointing out our children’s increased risk of developing lifelong, chronic conditions. Unfortunately, even with ULEZ, diesel cars will continue to be on our roads.
Cleaner Greener Europeaner
It doesn’t have to be this way. The Clean Cities Campaign has ranked 42 European cities based on levels of: shared bikes and e-scooters, shared electric cars, zero-emission buses and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. There is no UK city in the top half of the table: we’re outranked by large cities from all corners of the continent. The five UK cities - London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and Greater Manchester - are all trailing the competition. The only way is up!
*Sacha has thrown his sombrero in the ring and committed to learning Sevillanas this year. And Louise is still trying to master the language of start-ups.
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