“The French government has halted a controversial scheme to ban half of the traffic from Paris streets after a single day, claiming that the experiment aimed at curbing harmful pollution had been successful and that the vast majority of Parisians had co-operated.” (Guardian.com).
Air pollution also has an impact on everyone living and working in London. The Greater London Authority (GLA) estimated that in 2008 there were 4,267 deaths attributable to long-term exposure to small particles.
Here in London, the Environmental Research Group at King’s College is leading a major research project to better understand the health problems caused by air pollution and noise from traffic.
The traffic project is funded by a £2million grant under the cross-Research Council Environmental Exposure and Health Initiative (EEHI) with funds from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) , and the Department of Health (DoH).
King’s are leading a consortium of over 20 investigators from Imperial College London, St George’s, University of London and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“This is an exciting new project which will tell us much more about how pollution affects the health of people in the city. We already know traffic pollution can have adverse effects on the health of some people living and working in London, but this project will allow us to understand better the risks to individuals as they go about their everyday lives.”
Professor Frank Kelly, Director of the Environmental Research Group.
The health impacts of two pollutants of concern in London, as described on the Greater London Authority website, are listed below.
Particulate matter (PM):
- Particulate pollution can harm the human respiratory and cardiovascular systems – it is linked to asthma and mortality.
- Research shows that particles with a diameter of ten microns and smaller (PM10) are likely to be inhaled deep into the respiratory tract.
- As smaller particles can penetrate deeper, the health impacts of PM2.5 are especially significant.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2):·
- At high concentrations, NO2 causes inflammation of the airways.
- Long-term exposure can affect lung function and respiratory symptoms – it can also increase asthma symptoms.
- The health impacts of NO2 are less well understood than those of PM10, as less research has been undertaken in this area.