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London Air Quality at Six-Year Low Due to Pollution

Air pollution is a major problem in London. Air quality is at a six-year low. This is one of the primary reasons why the government has come up with several air pollution-focused projects over time, including the ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emission zones) and the CAZs (Clean Air Zones).

The ULEZ has been expanded but the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, expanded it further so that the entire Greater London area is covered. Mayor Sadiq wants to make sure that all five million residents of London will get safer air.

Although the ULEZ is doing its job, air quality is still a sensitive issue in the city. Earlier this year, in January, residents were given a warning that lasted for several days. This was for the increase in pollutant measurements as well as more frequent doctor’s visits. Reports indicated that the incident was caused by wood burning.

The wood burning was the Londoners’ alternative to using central heating so their energy bills won’t increase. With the cost of living on the rise and a 16.7% food price inflation, families and homemakers have been adjusting their budgets.

London’s high air pollution levels are an indication that the government needs to improve its air quality mandates. If the laws are ineffective, something has to be done about them. The ULEZ may be working but other policies should also be implemented. For example, in 2022, London was named a Smoke Controlled Area but the councils ignored this and did not approve fines for those who cook using wood-burning stoves.

The government has to do more, act swiftly, and strictly implement policies if they are to achieve their zero-emissions goal on schedule.

Significant events that should serve as reminders for Londoners

Two unforgettable events related to air pollution happened in London many years ago. The Great Smog of London took place in December 1952 while the tragic untimely death of young Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah happened in February 2013.

The Great Smog of London had the entire city embraced by extremely cold weather and windless, anticyclone conditions. This formed a thick layer of smog that resulted from airborne pollutants that resulted from coal use. The Great Smog of 1952 went on for four days – from December 5 to 9.

Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah was a nine-year-old girl who walked to school every day. She lived in the South Circular Road area, one of the most polluted places in London. She was in and out of the hospital and emergency room consecutively for several months. In February 2013, after a severe asthma attack, Ella died.

Her death shocked the public and put the spotlight on air pollution. An inquest was ordered and in December 2020, the coroner confirmed what her mother Rosamund, campaigners, and advocates had been expecting – exposure to air pollution was the primary cause of Ella’s death.

The emissions that come from diesel vehicles are called nitrogen oxide or NOx and they are dangerous for human health and the environment. This was what Ella breathed in every day.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Ella’s death. Since that fateful day, numerous studies have been conducted about the effects of air pollution on children and adolescents. The findings all indicated the same thing: exposure to NOx emissions and air pollution, in general, can adversely affect children and teens’ health. Blood pressure levels can shoot up and they can suffer from health impacts, such as asthma and pulmonary oedema (the lungs are filled with water).

Nitrogen oxide is composed of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO). They help form smog and acid rain, aside from producing the pollutant called ground-level ozone. Vegetation also weakens when  exposed to NOx for long durations.

A person exposed to NOx emissions can develop dementia as nitrogen oxide can affect one’s cognitive abilities. It can also trigger episodes of depression, anxiety, and other mental health-related issues.

Aside from asthma and pulmonary oedema, the following health conditions may be caused by NOx emissions:

  • Breathing problems
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Corroded teeth
  • Laryngospasm
  • Asphyxiation
  • Respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and emphysema
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cancer
  • Premature death

Diesel emissions have been around for years but it was only during the Dieselgate scandal that they became a household name.

Dieselgate scandal: What it is

The Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal started after US authorities sent a Notice of Violation, having allegedly discovered that Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles used defeat devices to cheat on emissions tests. The allegation is significant as a defeat device is engineered to detect when a vehicle is in regulatory testing and it automatically – but temporarily – reduces emissions to within the limits mandated by the WHO.

While the vehicle appears clean to regulators, this state only holds during testing conditions. Once the vehicle is out of the lab and driven on real-life roads, it releases massive and unlawful volumes of NOx. Essentially, every defeat device-equipped vehicle is a pollutant.

Aside from Volkswagen, other carmakers were also alleged to have used defeat devices, including BMW, Vauxhall, and Mercedes-Benz.

What is my diesel claim?

Authorities believe that affected car owners should be compensated for the inconvenience carmakers gave them. Filing a diesel claim is the best way to do this.

However, you have to verify first if you are eligible to file one. Visit ClaimExperts.co.uk to get all the information you need to start your claim.

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