Pollution in Newham exceeding EU limits ‘a major threat to our health’

Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth London campaigner, in Newham Way on the A13 near the North Circula

Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth London campaigner, in Newham Way on the A13 near the North Circular Road roundabout - Credit: Archant

The amount of pollution in Newham is above the limit set by European law, according to campaigners who warn of a serious threat to people’s health.

The group Friends of the Earth recorded the level of ­nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at more than 30 locations in June and found that half of them were higher than the EU’s legal ­annual limit.

Jenny Bates, London campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: “A lot of people in Newham have no idea how bad the pollution is in the area.

“The problem is largely ­invisible, but it is a really serious health issue. It’s second only to smoking as a cause of premature death. We need to put pressure on the council, on the government, on the Mayor of London to do whatever is necessary to bring the levels within the EU legal limits.”

The EU sets the annual level of NO2 at 40 micrograms per cubic metre, but Friends of the Earth recorded levels as high as 60 ­micrograms for areas with heavy traffic, such as the A13.

Newham Council said the health of residents is a top priority and that air quality is a significant public health issue which it monitors closely.

A spokesman said: “Air quality in London is a problem which is recognised and being dealt with at a national, regional and local level.

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“Levels in Newham are actually considerably better than in central London, which has higher traffic congestion.

He added: “The council has consistently campaigned for improved public transport such as the Docklands Light Railway Stratford International extension.

“We have also been successful in a recent bid for £160,000 funding to install green screens on the Romford Road, Little Ilford – a barrier of trees and bushes – to protect residents from traffic fumes.”

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