Pollution on Oxford Street is So Bad it Broke Annual EU Limits in Just Four Days

By Gerald Lynch on at

Those that braved the New Year sales on London's Oxford Street had better have had brought a gas mask along for the ride; according to experts from King's College London and the Clean Air in London campaign group, the capital's busy shopping hub broke annual EU pollution limits just four days into 2015.

Yep, from the 1st to 4th of January this year, vehicles on Oxford Street spewed out more nitrogen dioxide than should be seen in 365 days.

To be precise, the EU limit requires that nitrogen dioxide levels go no higher than 200 micrograms per cubic metre for 18 hours a year -- a limit that seems impossible for Oxford Street to come anywhere near meeting.

And it wasn't just Oxford Street at fault in the capital -- pollution levels on Putney High Street, Walbrook Wharf, Brixton Road and Marylebone Road were all deemed unacceptable.

The government is already facing legal action from the EU for its inability to combat excessive pollution levels, and these latest stats will likely see the Mayor's office get a good telling off. However, Boris Johnson's team claims it is doing all it can to reduce harmful air quality, taking old and polluting vehicles off the road and looking to introduce an "ultra low emission zone in Central London from 2020." It's also considering introducing car-free Sundays to some parts of the city.

Late last year, a committee of MPs began a campaign to see future schools built away from pollution hotspots, for fear that they would otherwise cause long-term health problems for youngsters. [Evening Standard]

Image Credit: Oxford Street from Shutterstock