Revealed: The five most polluted places in Camden
- Credit: Pawel_Czaja/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Residents in parts of Camden are being exposed to illegal concentrations of toxic pollution.
Data released to the Ham&High revealed four places in the borough where concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) were above the legal limit in 2020, even with lockdown slashing the number of vehicles on the road. Other locations were only slightly under the limit.
Long-term exposure to NO2 can cause respiratory infections, reduce lung function and lead to premature deaths. Camden's number one cause of NO2 is vehicle engines.
A council spokesperson said: “Clean air is one of our residents’ top priorities and we want to make sure that no one experiences poor health as a result of the air they breathe.”
Camden Council was the first in the country to toss out the government’s “limited” pollution targets and instead aim for more ambitious targets set by the World Health Organisation.
Overall, it said, pollution was decreasing, "but we know we need to go further and more urgently".
These are the five most polluted areas in Camden, based on existing air monitoring.
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A monitor at the junction of Euston Road and Judd Street, opposite the British Library, recorded an annual mean NO2 concentration of 52.4 microgrammes per cubic metre.
Under the Air Quality Standards Regulations (2010), the annual average concentration must not exceed 40 microgrammes.
The council said it was a TfL road, so it had “limited local control”, but it was trying to try to tackle pollution in the area.
Tactics included improving “cycling connectivity”, asking HS2 construction workers to use “efficient” HGVs, and imposing planning restrictions on new developments.
TfL said it had "significantly reduced" pollution in areas exceeding the legal limit since 2016, through tighter emissions standards and greener buses and taxis.
It said the new figures showed the importance of a new Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) - where vehicles which do not meet efficiency standards will be charged to drive in central London - which was set to cut emissions by 30 per cent.
NO2 levels near Camden Road's junction with Royal College Street also broke the legal limit, with an average annual reading of 43.2 microgrammes.
The council said this too was a TfL road.
It said its efforts to improve pollution levels in this area again included “improving cycling connectivity”, with cycle lanes on York Way, and the introduction of a “healthy school streets” scheme to “reduce school run traffic”.
At Brill Place, near St Pancras station, air monitoring detected an annual NO2 concentration of 42.9 microgrammes.
Camden Council said it believed this was caused partly by nearby businesses using diesel generators and by emissions from construction sites.
It said it was trying to reduce pollution levels through enforcing regulations on the use of construction machinery, using planning conditions on demolition and construction work, and engaging with premises using generators.
Tottenham Court Road
Near the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Goodge Street, NO2 concentration was 42.2 microgrammes over the year.
The council said levels may have been affected by construction work in the West End.
It said it supported the introduction of the ULEZ.
Britannia Junction and Camden High Street
Air monitoring at the Britannia Junction – where Parkway, Camden High Street and Camden Road meet outside Camden Town station – recorded an annual NO2 concentration of 39.7 microgrammes per cubic metre of air.
Up the road, in Camden High Street, monitors picked up an annual reading of 36.9 microgrammes.
Camden Council said both areas were in its Camden Town Low Emission Neighbourhood – funded with £500,000 from the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund.
It said it would work with residents and businesses to reduce emissions caused by transport, heating and cooking.
Plans included closing roads to through traffic, opening them to healthier means of transport and installing more electric vehicle charging points.
The council said its Clean Air Action Plan would reduce emissions from transport, buildings and construction, and would educate people on how to avoid pollution.
“These actions will help to improve air quality at the specific sites highlighted, surrounding areas and across the borough,” it said.