London’s pollution shame was laid bare by shocking new figures today.
Londoners are breathing the filthiest air in the country – with toxicity levels up to three-and-a-half times the EU legal limit.
All 50 of Britain’s worst blackspots for dirty air are in the capital, according to data obtained under Freedom of Information.
And each has at least double the EU limit for nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas linked to asthma, lung infections and other respiratory problems.
The most polluted street is Marylebone Road where the EU limit is shattered in at least five places.
Next worst are Park Lane, Knightsbridge, the Hammersmith Flyover and the East Ham and Barking By Pass.
Number seven on the toxic Top 50 is Oxford Street where it joins Orchard Road at Selfridges – despite Boris Johnson last year dismissing as “bollocks” claims by top experts that the country’s famous shopping street harboured some of the worst pollution on the planet.
Labour accused the Government of failing to tackle a “silent killer” that is believed to lead to thousands of premature deaths each year.
Shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle said: “Air pollution is killing 29,000 people a year, and London’s fifty dirtiest roads all exceed legal limits.” She said Labour would give councils new powers to clean up.
The figures show NO2 levels recorded at monitoring stations around London near where people shop, live and travel.
The European Union sets a limit of 40 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre on average per year.
London’s worst blackspot, where Marylebone Road joins Glentworth Street, showed 132 micrograms – about three and a half times the EU maximum.
Nearby at the junction with Wyndham Street the level was 124, some three times the maximum.
Simon Birkett, the former banker who founded the Clean Air in London campaign, said the figures contained “extraordinary revelations” about the pollution picture.
“We need a serious debate about these issues during the election,” said Mr Birkett. Official forecasts showed roads would still be twice the legal limit in 2030, and Heathrow becomes a top 50 hotspot from 2025, even without a third runway.
The new data lists at least two sites in Oxford Street where current pollution levels are nearly triple the limit.
Pollution levels at Park Lane and Knightsbridge were 117, while at the Hammersmith Flyover and Alfred’s Way, the East Ham and Barking By Pass, they were 114.
Even the least polluted locations out of the 50 showed pollution levels of 92 or more, which is two and a half times the maximum.
A spokesperson for Defra, the environment department, said: “Air quality has improved significantly in recent decades and we are investing heavily in measures across government to continue this, committing £2 billion since 2011 in green transport initiatives.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor said pollution was falling, saying: “The Mayor is leading the most ambitious and comprehensive package of measures in the world to improve London’s air quality.” Plans include an Ultra Low Emission Zone from 2020.
Research by the Campaign for Clean Air found that 1,148 schools in London are within 150 metres of roads carrying 10,000 or more vehicles per day.