London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone is essential to the public’s respiratory health

As London’s new Ultra Low Emissions Zones (ULEZ) came into effect this month, a new animation highlights the effects that air pollution has on the public’s respiratory health

Latest figures show that there are currently 40,000 pollution-related deaths a year in the UK[1].

While this problem causes concerns for all, it can be even more problematic for the 12 million Brits affected by lung conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)[2] and young children – 86% of which across the UK are growing up breathing hazardous levels of toxic air[3].

In fact, children living in higher areas of pollution have been found to have approx. 5% reduced lung capacity over a 5 year period[4].

ULEZ hailed as a massive step forward in tackling the toxic problems across the capital, will replace the current ‘T-Charge’. Charges will run from midnight to midnight seven days a week and will operate within the same areas as the current Congestion Charging Zone (CCZ).

It will cost £12.50 for most vehicle types, including cars, motorcycles and vans (up to and including 3.5 tonnes). Heavier vehicles, such as lorries (over 3.5 tonnes) and buses/coaches (over 5 tonnes) will incur a charge of £100.

The average person breathes in 25,000 times a day[5] and this animation, created by GSK, shows the journey of the harmful pollutants into our lungs. Pollutants that we breathe in, such as nitrogen dioxide, particles and carbon monoxide, can be carried deep into the lungs where they can cause inflammation and restrict the uptake of oxygen into the blood[6].

In the UK, car exhaust fumes are one of the biggest causes of air pollution alongside burning fuels, industrial processes[7] and household cleaning products[8].

The ULEZ will help reduce harmful exhaust gases that contribute to illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide across London boroughs. It is expected to expand to the inner London area within the North and South Circular roads from 25th October 2021.

 

References

[1] – https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/every-breath-we-take-lifelong-impact-air-pollution

[2] – https://statistics.blf.org.uk/lung-disease-uk-big-picture

[3] – https://downloads.unicef.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Healthy-Air-for-Every-Child-A-Call-for-National-Action-1.pdf?_ga=2.19632184.1097848019.1550227440-1122362203.1550227440

[4] – https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(18)30202-0/fulltext

[5] – https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/how-your-lungs-work/about-the-lungs

[6] – https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/air-pollution/effects

[7] – https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/air-pollution/where-does-it-come-from

[8] – https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/indoor-air-pollution/about-indoor-air-pollution

ULEZ TfL information – https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone

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