Air Pollution is Worse on the London Underground Than on London’s ULEZ Streets mdi-fullscreen

Former environment secretary Theresa Villiers is accusing Sadiq Khan of ignoring key data about the tube system’s pollution in his proposed extension of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) across London. Sadiq Khan’s only defence for the money-grabbing move is that clean air will save lives. However, Theresa Villiers, the MP for the London suburb of Chipping Barnet, told Guido there is little evidence ULEZ will have health benefits. Villiers says Khan is “refusing to answer important questions about particulate pollution levels on our public transport”.

In 2019, a study by King’s College found pollution on the London Underground was around 15 times greater than at street level. The Committee for Medical Effects of Air Pollution (COMEAP) said a one hour tube ride was as harmful to health as a full day standing by roads in Central London.

While TFL pledged to address this, many tube lines including the Northern and Victoria are currently exposing commuters to 8 times above the UK safe limit for toxic particles (PM2.5).Tanya Beri, founder of CAIR London- a mobile app showing the most polluting tube routes- said: “Above ground pollution is a serious problem but we cannot ignore the high levels of PM 2.5 Underground”. CAIR measured the platform at Walthamstow Central on the Victoria Line this January, finding it was a shocking 232 mg per cubic metres – over 9 times the UK legal limit of 25 mg per cubic metre, and over 23 times the World Health Organisation’s recommended safe limit for PM 2.5 which is 10 mg per cubic metre.

Fine particles are usually thrown into the air as wheels, brakes and tracks grind against each other. And the reason why they are so dangerous is because they are small enough to enter the lungs and human bloodstream. PM 2.5 has been shown to cause Asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neurological problems.

From August 29, drivers of the most polluting vehicles will be forced to pay a £12.50 charge when driving in outer London. The plans have sparked major backlash over the impact this will have on charities, small businesses, cancer patients, carers, elderly and disabled people, who may not be able to use public transport or afford to upgrade their cars to ULEZ compliant models. Villiers, the former Environment Secretary, is urging MPs to back a new law which would grant Westminster powers to overturn ULEZ.

“The Mayor’s approach to ULEZ and air quality has many inconsistencies… He tries to grandstand on these issues but there is no convincing evidence that his proposed ULEZ extension will have any significant health benefits. At the same time as pushing that unpopular measure, he is refusing to answer important questions about particulate pollution levels on our public transport.”

The Mayor’s office has given Guido no answer as to why they are driving people off the open roads into the even more polluted air of the London Underground. London’s Underground has been measured to be polluted at 9 times the UK’s safe legal limit…

mdi-tag-outline London Underground Mayor of London
mdi-account-multiple-outline Sadiq Khan Theresa Villiers
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