Mayor of London Sadiq Khan vows to tackle air pollution as worrying new figures reveal capital’s health inequalities

James Nickerson
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Sadiq Khan Takes First Mayor's Question Time
Khan said poor air quality is a ticking time-bomb for our health (Source: Getty)

New figures that lay bare the extent of London's air pollution has sparked a promised crackdown by the Mayor of London.

Data published today revealed that Londoners living in the capital’s most deprived boroughs are significantly more likely to die of lung cancer, asthma and other lung diseases than those who live in more affluent parts of the capital.

Londoners living in Tower Hamlets, Barking and Dagenham and Newham are up to twice as likely to die from lung cancer and other lung diseases than those who live just a few miles away in some of London’s most well-off boroughs such as Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Barnet.

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"This deeply concerning report shines a light on the huge health inequalities in London as well as how poor air quality is a ticking time-bomb for our health, particularly for Londoners in the most deprived parts of the city," Khan said.

"I am determined to get to grips with health inequalities in harder-to-reach groups and in London’s most vulnerable communities – something the previous Mayor dismally failed to do.

"One of the best ways to do this is to tackle London’s dangerously polluted air and make sure that breathing clean air is a right, not a privilege."

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Following plans to clean up London's air last month, Khan promised that a formal consultation will be launched in a matter of weeks.

Proposals include:

  • Extending the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the North Circular Road and the South Circular Road and the possibility of bringing forward the introduction earlier than 2020.
  • Implementing an extra charge on the most polluting vehicles entering central London using the Congestion Charge payment and enforcement system from 2017.
  • Introducing ULEZ standards for heavy vehicles London-wide from 2020
  • Giving the go-ahead for Transport for London (TfL) to start work on the costs and challenges of implementing a diesel scrappage scheme as part of a wider national scheme delivered by the Government
  • Proposals to work with the government to tackle air pollution on a national and international level.

The latest medical research indicates that almost 10,000 Londoners die every year because of polluted air.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, which published the study, said: "We know that air pollution can have a detrimental effect on the health of our most vulnerable citizens both today and tomorrow and could cause lasting damage.

"It’s a worry for everyone, making existing lung problems worse, increasing our risk of lung cancer and early death. We must all play a part in reducing harmful pollution. We are pleased to see that the Mayor is taking action to reduce pollution in London."