Local air quality

Read on to find out about local air quality and reducing your own emissions and exposure...

The biggest issues for Wandsworth’s air quality are concentrations of “particulate matter” (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2or NOx).   The main sources of these emissions are motor vehicles, particularly diesel engines.  Studies show that air quality is lowest on busy roads and improves rapidly as you move away from them. 

But it isn’t just exhaust fumes that cause the problems- A substantial proportion of vehicle related PMs come from wear and tear on engine components, brakes and tyres. PMs include soot, part burnt diesel and petrol compounds that form benzene-based carcinogens, heavy metals, silica, bitumen, rubber and organic and other waste matter from road surfaces. These can be inhaled deep into lungs, and many of the particles can pass through the lungs into the blood.  This is now known to be a significant cause of lung cancer, asthma and bronchitis symptoms as well as cardiovascular disease and strokes.  Public Health England estimates that this causes 3,300 premature deaths in London each year.

NO2 is produced by all combustion processes, and by chemical reactions in polluted air. It is a brown gas which irritates mucous membranes in the lungs and eyes and at high levels can increase the incidence of asthma and other respiratory diseases.

There are many ways in which we can reduce our own emissions and exposure with travel related decisions being key.  Find out what the Council is doing to improve local air quality and how you to reduce your own emissions and exposure. You can also sign up to local air quality text alerts to help you reduce your exposure when weather conditions cause PM and NO2 concentrations to rise.

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