Air pollution levels plummeted in central London as cars, buses, vans and trucks were restricted from major routes by the running of the 37th London Marathon.
Measurements taken by King’s College London showed that harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions fell by a massive 89 per cent on Sunday.
Experts said the results showed the collective impact a wide-scale ban on vehicles from entering city centres could have on London – and the rest of the UK’s – poor air conditions.
Air pollution improvement: A new study claims harmful NOx emissions in London fell by 89% on Sunday due to vehicles being banned from the capital during the marathon
The research was conducted two months ahead of Clean Air Day 2018 – which takes place on 21 June – and highlighted the immense impact restraints on the use of petrol and diesel-powered motor vehicles can have on emissions.
With studies suggesting that NOx emissions are directly linked to the premature death of around 40,000 Britons a year (around the same number of people who run the marathon), the Government is being urged to take new measures to curb outputs, including extra taxation on diesel cars and incentives to buy zero-emissions electric cars.
Current incentives include the plug-in car grant, which offers to pay £4,500 towards the price of a new pure-electric model, or £2,500 off the price of an eligible plug-in hybrid car.
The issue is even greater in inner city areas, with London breaching EU legal limits for the entirety of 2018 before the end of January.
London Major Sadiq Khan has already introduced the T-Charge last year – an extra £10 surcharge on top of the existing £11.50 Congestion Charge – and the Ultra Low Emissions Zone will apply from April 2019 to reduce the impact of vehicle pollution in the capital.
Larissa Lockwood, head of health at Global Action Plan, which is spearheading the Clean Air Day campaign, said, ‘Taking collective action to tackle air pollution every day can make a massive difference, as shown at the London Marathon 2018.
‘With traffic free streets pollution levels dropped by 89 per cent. Imagine if more people left the car at home every day. We would suffer far fewer health problems from air pollution.
‘Let’s take action together on Clean Air Day, 21 June, to make a real difference to the air we breathe.’
Some 40,000 runners took to the streets of the capital on Sunday – that’s around the same number of people scientists claim die prematurely in the UK because of poor air pollution
London Mayor Sadiq Khan introduced the new T-Charge on top of the Congestion Charge last year in a move to reduce vehicle emissions in the capital’s inner-city roads
The Ultra Low Emissions Zone hopes to reduce London’s poor air quality levels further
King’s College used pollution monitoring equipment on the marathon route to analyse the impact of a significant reduction in vehicle usage.
Measurements were taken between 7:00 until 19:00 on Sunday and then compared to the equivalent 12-hour periods on the previous three Sundays in April.
Scientists have linked air pollution to the early onset of heart disease and worsens asthma and lung and heart conditions in adults and children.
King’s College estimated that up to 9,500 early deaths occur in London each year as a result of poor air quality.
The 2018 Clean Air Day in June will highlight the measures people can take to reduce air pollution in their areas.
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