Pollution plummets across Camden, as coronavirus lockdown reduces traffic

Simon Birkett, founder of Clean Air in London, said the data showed how much pollution was generated

Simon Birkett, founder of Clean Air in London, said the data showed how much pollution was generated by London traffic. - Credit: Clean Air in London

Pollution has plummeted across Camden since the coronavirus pandemic led Government to impose ‘lockdown’.

One monitoring station, in Euston Road, saw concentrations drop by almost 60 per cent.

Campaigners said they hoped some measures would continue after lockdown, to help keep pollution low.

Ham & High teamed up with campaign group Clean Air in London to analyse data from three pollution monitoring stations in Camden borough.

Simon Birkett, founder of Clean Air in London, said: “This has been an experiment, forced upon us in tragic circumstances, which shows how much traffic pollution harms a city.”

Monitors record concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the air. Long-term exposure to NO2 reduces lung function, causes respiratory illness and increases hospital admissions and premature deaths.

We calculated the average pollution level for every Monday between January 6 and March 23, then compared it to the level on Monday, March 30 – after a full week of lockdown.

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At the junction of Euston Road and Dukes Road, pollution was so severe that on one day, it was more than 125pc over the legal limit. The limit – for ‘protection of human health’ - is 40 microgrammes (?g) per cubic metre of air. On January 20, the monitor recorded 91.3?g. The average was 60.4?g, but after a week of lockdown it dropped to 25.8?g - a 57.3pc reduction.

In Russell Square Gardens, Bloomsbury, the highest reading was 80.1?g. The average was 39.9?g. But after a week’s lockdown, it was down 45.4pc to 21.8?g.

In Swiss Cottage, at the junction of Finchley Road and College Crescent, the average was 38.8?g, but by March 30 it was 23.6?g - 39.2pc down.

The figures come from raw data, which will later be ‘bias corrected’ to allow for factors like the weather impacting readings.

Patricia Callaghan, deputy leader of Camden Council, said: “I think working from home benefits everybody. Zoom meetings benefit everybody. It’s about changing people’s behaviour. The way the community has come together has been really special. If we put as much into stopping pollution as we have into helping vulnerable people, then we’d make real headway.”