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Empty King's Cross during London lockdown
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Toxic fumes in London are at their lowest in 70 years

Laura Richards

Desperate for us to deliver some silver linings to you in your PJs? Well, London’s toxic fumes have fallen to their lowest levels in 70 years, according to data gathered for the government across 13 sites around the capital. 

The research revealed that levels of nitrogen oxides (NOX) are down by between 22 and 62 percent, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has reduced by between 13 and 43 percent, when compared to emissions in the capital before lockdown measures came into place in March. 

The drop in these harmful gases comes from a drastic reduction in traffic on London’s roads while people stay at home, as people abandon their daily commute and businesses no longer need deliveries. Without vehicles on the roads to the usual extent, emissions appear to be at their lowest since the 1950s. 

Although this drop sounds pretty significant, the team at York University who analysed the data believe air pollution from traffic could be down even further, since levels of ‘background’ gases from other sources (such as central heating) could be contributing to the gases being detected. The Cabinet Office has suggested that traffic on the roads is down by about three quarters, and modern vehicle emissions are cleaner than those from cars in the ’50s, which would point to an even bigger reduction, according to the air pollution experts. 

The research follows news of satellite images showing a dramatic decline in air pollution in the UK. So feel free to take a deep breath on your next daily walk. 

In other positive news, London’s Victoria Park is set to reopen for the bank holiday weekend

And the capital is so quiet an entire herd of deer has taken over this empty corner of east London.

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