Since the weekend, autumn fog has shrouded London in a gorgeous photogenic mist. Which, as it turns out, is terrible news for our lungs. Pollution monitors dotted around the city are pinging with harmful levels of air pollution.
The high pollution is being caused by a double whammy of foggy weather (still winds allowing pollutants to build up under the mist) plus fireworks celebrating Diwali and Bonfire Night. One monitor in Harlington near Heathrow recorded it highest possible level, 10/10, on October 31.
We spoke to Andrea Lee, a healthy air campaigner with ClientEarth, a charity of international environmental lawyers, who told us that high air pollution is a regular visitor to London in November: ‘Around this time of year, you can get pollution spikes because of bonfires. But this year the fog is exacerbating the problem and the calm weather is also allowing the usual source of pollution, road transport, to build up.’ ClientEarth is currently suing the UK Government over air pollution levels.
Pollution is a massive problem in London, causing nearly 9,500 premature deaths every year – that’s 100 double-decker buses full of people dying early. But unlike the pea-soupers of the 1950s, we can’t see the tiny particles that are killing us and are mostly caused by diesel engines.
Sadiq Khan announced plans in August for air quality alerts at bus stop and tube stations. You can also keep track of air pollution levels with an app. Try City Air or Plume.