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expert comments about ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in London, which is coming into force next monday

Reactions to news that an ultra-low emission zone will be introduced in London on Monday 8th April.

Prof Jonathan Grigg, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), and Professor of Paediatric Respiratory and Environmental Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, said:

“Air pollution can have major health implications on the developing child, with early exposure proven to increase the risk of asthma and lung infections and these can be life threatening.

“Approximately 50% of air pollution comes from road transport and 40% comes from diesel, so the introduction of London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone on 8 April is extremely welcome.  Coupled with this move, we need to see employers and schools encouraging and facilitating better use of public transport and active travel options like walking and cycling.  London has some active travel networks which if utilised, not only reduce air pollution but also improve family fitness which has many positive health benefits.”

Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director for PHE London, said:

“We welcome the ultra low emission zones initiative, which is an important step towards reducing air pollution in the capital and making London one of the world’s healthiest global cities.”

Prof Frank Kelly, Director of the Environmental Research Group and Professor of Environmental Health, King’s College London, said:

“Air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.  Analysing the health impacts of air pollution is a core component of King’s civic responsibility and scientific evidence shows that poor air quality is not only exerting a greater impact on established health challenges, such as respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, but is also associated with a broader number of disease outcomes, including adverse birth outcomes, diabetes, neurodevelopment and cognitive function.

“Cracking London’s air pollution problem is therefore absolutely vital, but presents a huge challenge as poor air quality does not respect boundaries; exposure is an almost universal risk factor for disease.  Success will depend upon the concerted action of a host of parties – including scientists and policy makers at a local, national and international level – acting in harmony and with a vested interest in achieving air quality that is fit for London.

“Tackling London’s toxic air also requires a step-change in public attitude and behaviour.  If people are aware of variations in the quality of the air they breathe and the effect of pollutants on health, they will be increasingly motivated to change their own behaviour as well as supporting changes in public policy such as the ULEZ.

“In London we have an administration that recognises the importance of tackling poor air quality and the detrimental impact of air pollution.  I applaud the Mayor of London and his team for taking the bold action needed to introduce the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) and in doing so help protect the health of Londoners and importantly, their children.”

Declared interests

None received.

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