Tests suggest NO2 pollution levels may be higher at child height

Pollution cars 2Levels of damaging nitrogen dioxide may be higher than official readings show and may be much at much higher levels at child or buggy height, according to a cycling campaign group.

HFcyclists, a campaign group based in Hammersmith and Fulham decided to take their own NO2 readings around the Hammersmith gyratory system and Shepherd’s Bush Green. With the support of the environmental legal group ClientEarth they set up tubes to monitor NO2, which are produced particularly by diesel engines.

Official readings are taken at a height of 3 metres. They placed tubes at different heights at 2 locations. The campaign group found that readings were significantly higher closer to the ground – up to 30% higher at 0.5 metres, the height of a child in a buggy and 25% at 0.8 metres, the height of a pram or a small toddler


Graphic: HFcyclists/ClientEarth

All their readings were in excess of the EU regulatory limit. As reported by Urbs, all but 2 London boroughs are in breach of legal limits and a recent study by Kings College said that NO2 was responsible for 9,500 deaths a year. The same study found that the number NO2 related deaths in Hammersmith and Fulham was one of the lowest in the city.

HFcyclists acknowledge that their modest test over a two-month period earlier this year should be seen as no more than indicative and the proximity of the Hammersmith flyover may have affected the height distribution of NO2. They say that they will continue to monitor to obtain more robust data. But the results raise further concern about the effects of nitrogen dioxide levels in London, particularly for children.

Source data

See also

Nearly 9,500 deaths a year – study reveals impact of air pollution

Most boroughs fail on legal limit for toxic gas that could harm health

Emission targets at risk as growing population hits greener city plan