Air pollution contributed to 6.5 million premature deaths worldwide in 2015 – similar to deaths from smoking .
Burning of carbon based fuels is one of the main sources of air pollution, especially when the fuels are impure and/or are burnt in a poorly controlled manner. So for example, smoke from domestic fires kills nearly two million people each year and sickens millions more, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In low-income countries, such as
those in Africa and
In industrialised regions, coal
burnt in power stations, industry and homes is one of the main culprits,
607 Electric Trolley Buses
Served Ealing until 1960
The diesel engine is more efficient than petrol, especially in city start-stop driving, so although it is more expensive to buy, it has long been the engine of choice for lorries, buses and vans since the fuel savings make it worthwhile. Those fuel savings also mean that diesels produce 15% less CO2 than petrol, but unfortunately they emit four times more nitrogen oxide pollution (NOx) and 22 times more particulates - the tiny particles that penetrate the lungs, brain and heart.
Diesel engine manufacturers have
long sought to change the engine's reputation for being noisier and smellier,
and to minimise smoke and NOx, so that they could penetrate the car market. I
first came to
Breakdown of NOx Emissions
(NRMM= Non Road
In 2016 the annual mean limit for
NO2 pollution (40 ug/m3) was broken at 59 of 97
However every area in the capital also exceeds World Health Organisation (WHO) limits for damaging fine particles invisible to the naked eye known as PM2.5 (Particulate Matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns, 1 micron = one thousandth of a mm). Nearly 95% of the capital’s population live in areas that exceed the limit by 50% or more . The main traffic sources of PM 2.5 are diesel exhaust, and tyre wear, brake wear and road surface abrasion from all vehicles .
As even electric vehicles will suffer tyre wear (especially if they have heavy batteries), reducing all vehicle use is the best way to avoid transport emissions. Electric trams and trains are the cleanest mass transport technology: they have steel wheels instead of rubber tyres, and with regenerative braking (the electric motors work in reverse when slowing, generating useful electricity) they can minimise brake dust.
We must also attend to
non-traffic sources of PM2.5. Researchers at King’s College London have found
that wood-burning accounts for up to 31% of the city’s particulate pollution,
up from 10% in the past . Sadly the environmentally minded should therefore
avoid the lure of a wood stove and focus on insulating their house instead;
likewise avoid disposing of garden or DIY waste via a bonfire. Gas is a fairly
clean fuel, however gas combustion in homes and businesses accounts for a total
of 21% of NOx emissions in
An electric double-decker bus, built for TFL by Chinese manufacturers BYD.
Among plans to tackle pollution from
diesel cars in the capital, the new T-Charge  was introduced in October
which charges older, more polluting vehicles an extra £10 to drive in central
Regarding wood stoves, the mayor has asked the environment department to amend the Clean Air Act to allow for the creation of zero-emission zones where the burning of solid fuel is not allowed from 2025 onwards.
While there is much to welcome in the Mayor's plans, FoE may want to push for a greater reduction of overall vehicle use including for example the wasteful duplication of delivery vans. We will be conscious that heavy battery-electric vehicles are not problem free. Similarly pressing for the minimising of building heating requirements can only help air quality as well as cutting carbon emissions.
Personal exposure can be reduced
by avoiding busy streets and reducing exercise when pollution levels are at
their highest. You can see detailed live air quality data for
 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41678533 Pollution has been linked to nine million deaths worldwide in 2015, a report in The Lancet has found. The WHO estimates 7 million deaths annually due to tobacco http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/
 http://www.trolleybus.net/gb607.htm Ealings 607 Trolly Bus.
The rise of diesel in
 https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2017/october/mayor-s-new-10-t-charge-starts-today T Charge. Nearly 95% of the capital’s population live in areas that exceed the WHO PM2.5 limit by 50% or more.
Sources of PM2.5 emissions in
 https://policyexchange.org.uk/why-london-needs-a-boiler-scrappage-scheme/ Gas boiler emissions. Policy Exchange is a centre-right think tank.
 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/air-pollution-on-busy-roads-as-bad-as-passive-smoking-10-a-day-60q2pwdg0 Air pollution on busy roads as bad as passively smoking 10 a day.