London’s toxic air breached legal limits for the whole year just five days into 2017.
By law, levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) should not be more than 200 micrograms per cubic metre for more than 18 hours over the entire year.
According to environmental lawyers ClientEarth, it reached 19 hours at 9pm on Thursday at Brixton Road in Lambeth.
NO2 in towns and cities mostly comes from road traffic.
A number of other London locations, including Putney High Street and Brompton Road in Knightsbridge are also expected to breach the limit.
ClientEarth Lawyer Alan Andrews said: “This is another shameful reminder of the severity of London’s air pollution and shows why the Mayor has rightly made tackling it a top priority. It is absolutely essential that he now delivers on his promises and that the national government back him to the hilt.
“While London has the worst air pollution, this is a national problem which requires a national solution. The government’s draft plans to tackle air pollution, as ordered by the High Court, are due in April. They must include a national network of clean air zones, which stop the dirtiest diesel vehicles entering pollution hotspots. They also have to stop the perverse fiscal incentives which encourage people to use diesel vehicles and instead help them to buy cleaner ones.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has today announced 10 additional Low Emission Bus Zones, with one running through Brixton Road, ensuring that only the greenest buses are used on the capital’s most polluted routes.
He previously also announced plans to introduce a new T-charge for older, polluting vehicles in central London.
The Mayor’s Office said the government needs to match his commitment “as quickly as possible”.
A spokesperson added: “The fact that Brixton Road has exceeded the legal safe levels of nitrogen dioxide in the first six days of the year underscores why urgent action is needed to improve air quality across London.
“The government needs to match the Mayor’s commitment to improving air quality as quickly as possible by introducing a national diesel scrappage scheme, reforming fiscal incentives like vehicle excise duty and giving him more power to tackle construction, building and river emissions through a new 21st Century Clean Air Act.”
ELN has contacted the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) for a comment.