Two London estates show major improvement in air quality

Results from the Science In The City air quality monitoring project show a marked improvement in atmospheric conditions around two central London housing estates.

New data collected by City of London residents in a major study by Mapping for Change commissioned by the City of London Corporation has found a 40% improvement in air quality in two housing estates of the so-called Square Mile.

Dramatic reductions in air pollution have been seen around the Barbican and Golden Lane residential developments. This figure is based on comparing nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in 2021 to readings in 2013, when the project was launched. This confirms a previous study, published last year, showing a 42% drop in NO2 levels in the city since 2016.

When the project started, it also asked residents what they thought of air pollution and what kind of action they wanted to see from local authorities. These opinions have been central to the introduction of a low-emission neighborhood program in the city, alongside new electric vehicle charging points and green infrastructure, cargo bikes and the piloting of an initiative emission street car.

More recently, the City Corporation’s banning of new diesel vehicles for its fleet (where clean market alternatives are available), engaging in a London-wide crackdown on idling and the CityAir app – providing 35,000 Londoners with low air pollution travel routes, advice and alerts – can also be linked to the early stages of the project.

“To carry out a citizen science study with so many interested residents in the Barbican and Golden Lane areas has been a privilege and has provided valuable data that otherwise would not be available,” said Louise Francis, Managing Director of Mapping for Change.

“While this data set is an important piece, the views and insights of residents are also invaluable. Nothing replaces local knowledge and the residents are clearly the experts,” she continued. “Many of the ideas and suggestions for reducing air pollution proposed in 2013/4 have been translated into policies and adopted by the City Corporation. We hope this project will build on that success.

Last year, the City of London replaced its entire fleet of refuse collection vehicles with electric models.

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