Air pollution causes chronic health problems – will London's new charge on drivers help?

phys.org | 4/4/2017 | Staff
Zorra (Posted by) Level 4
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A new ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) is being introduced in London, to reduce harmful emissions from traffic and improve air quality. Those who drive polluting vehicles into the city centre will face a daily charge – £12.50 for cars, motorcycles and vans, and £100 for lorries, buses and coaches – on top of the existing congestion charge. By October 2021, the scheme will expand to cover an area 18 times larger.

The rationale for the ULEZ is clear: large numbers of people are living in areas with pollution levels well above the legal limits set by the European Union (EU). These limits are based on detailed evidence about the impacts of air pollution on people's health – which can cause short term effects like worsening asthma symptoms, to a loss of healthy years of life in the longer term.

Cities - UK - London - ULEZ - Test

Other cities across the UK and beyond will be watching closely, as London's ULEZ is effectively a test bed to gauge the effectiveness of such schemes at clearing up air pollution and improving the health of residents.

Over recent years, several London-based studies have shown that the city's air pollution is associated with increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, increases in daily deaths, stroke risk and low birth weights, as well as reduced lung volumes in children, dementia among the elderly, and poor mental health in children and adolescents.

Air - People - London - Effects - Health

Clearly, the polluted air that people breathe in London is having profound effects on their health, throughout their entire lives. So, while some people will lose out – for example, those who need to drive in central London for work – that should be weighed against the clear need for action to reduce pollution, on health grounds.

As well as the current health concerns, there are legal reasons why London authorities have introduced the new charge. Much...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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