Farringdon Street is worse than the Blackwall Tunnel northern approach, Old Street and Marylebone Road for deadly toxic particles
The worst clouds of tiny toxic particles linked to the early deaths of thousands of Londoners are found in the Square Mile, according to the most recently available data.
Sensors run by the King’s College-run London Air Quality Network, which checks PM2.5 levels at 30 sites across London, have revealed Farringdon Street – running from Smithfield to Fleet Street – as suffering worse levels of dangerous fine particulates than Blackwall Tunnel’s northern approach.
Farringdon Street even beats traffic-heavy hotspots such as Ikea at Brent Cross, Old Street in Hackney, Marylebone Road and the Woolwich Flyover.
Fine particulates, called PM2.5, are found in diesel fumes and are so deadly because they are easily inhaled and absorbed into the human body.
They are linked to asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory diseases.
Nearly 9,500 Londoners are killed every year from long-term exposure to fine particulates and nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas.
Today City of London Corporation officials meet to discuss the air quality crisis amid claims most of its pollution is blown in from outside boroughs.
A report presented to today’s Corporation’s audit and risk committee states: “The City experiences some of the highest levels of air pollution in the country.
“The main source is diesel vehicles, particularly buses, taxis and vans, with a contribution from boilers, other combustion plant and also construction activity.
“The Square Mile is affected by pollution generated outside of its boundary.
“Under certain weather conditions as much as 80 per cent of the pollution measured in the City does not originate within the Square Mile itself.
“Exposure to current levels of air pollution in central London over the long term has been shown to reduce life expectancy across the whole population.”
The report adds that nitrogen dioxide concentrations are “particularly high at busy roadsides such as Upper Thames Street”.
The Corporation faces fines if pollution levels do not fall, and are currently “unlikely to meet” European targets for cutting nitrogen dioxide by 2025.
Darryl Cox, spokesman for the London Cab Drivers’ Club, said much of their time cabbies driving fares around the City were stuck “sitting in pollution” due to the gridlock and idling engines.
The City of London Corporation has rolled out to other boroughs a scheme where residents, council air quality wardens and volunteers urge parked motorists to switch off their engines while they are waiting.
The clean air squads will be deployed on certain days in pedestrian zones, outside schools and hospitals, in residential areas and on roads known for engine idling.
A Corporation spokesman said: “We are taking a range of actions to fight back against air pollution including banning idling engines, introducing a 20mph zone, creating a City Air app and agreeing with Addison Lee, London’s biggest taxi firm, to go ‘electric only’ in key areas in the Square Mile.
“City firms are also using measures to reduce vehicle deliveries, use lower emission taxis and encourage staff to cycle, walk or run to work.”