Mayor Sadiq Khan has revealed new figures from the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory (LAEI), which suggest there has been a 57% reduction in the number of hours recorded in which the city exceeded the limit for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), emitted by diesel engines, so far this year compared to 2018.
That’s despite “no significant improvements” seen between 2013 and 2016, when more than 400 schools were still in areas which exceeded legal limits for NO2.
While the number of primary schools in these areas fell slightly from 371 to 369, the number of secondary schools affected is said to have grown from 81 to 86.
The latest statistics also reveal 10 monitoring sites have recorded hours with pollution levels above the limit so far in 2019 – from 43 sites in London in the first three months of 2016.
However, concerns remain as hundreds of thousands of children are still living in areas of toxic pollution and more than 9,000 people in the capital are thought to die prematurely from long term exposure to air pollution.
Mr Khan said: “From the very outset I have been crystal clear that I would do everything in my power to tackle London’s toxic air crisis. So far in my mayoralty, this includes cleaning up our bus and taxi fleet and establishing the largest air quality monitoring network of any major city.
“The introduction of the world’s first 24-hour seven-day-a-week Ultra Low Emission Zone next week marks a watershed moment in our fight to clean up our filthy air. The data I’ve published today gives an even clearer picture of the urgent need to take action.
“What’s more, our message to Londoners is clearly getting through – and we will continue to do all we can to support Londoners in making the transition away from older, more polluting vehicles.”