Air pollution in London has improved significantly since 2016, says Mayor

There has been more than a 90% reduction in the number of Londoners living in areas that exceed legal limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) between 2016 and 2019, according to new data published by City Hall. 

The new data reveals that: 

  • In 2019, 84% of major roads in London met the legal limit for NO2, compared to 46% in 2016
  • There has been a 22% reduction in NO2 across the whole of Greater London from 2016 to 2019
  • 70% of the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) meet the legal limits for NO2, an increase of 29% from 2016. 
  • There was a 19% reduction in PM2.5 across the whole city since 2016.

However, there is still much more work to do with 16% of all major roads in London still exceeding the legal limits for NO2.

close-up photography of vehicle traveling on road

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: ‘I pledged to be the greenest Mayor London has ever had and today’s report demonstrates the transformative and rapid impact of my air quality policies. I’m proud that Londoners are breathing cleaner air, that we’re saving the NHS in London billions of pounds and that the ambitious measures we’ve introduced now will help prevent hospital admissions and premature deaths in the future.

‘However, air pollution still remains a major public health challenge and it’s time for Government to step up, set ambitious national targets and provide the powers and funding we need to clean up London’s air once and for all. We can’t sleepwalk from one public health crisis – Covid-19 into complacency over the devastating impact of another – toxic air, on everyone’s health.

‘This is also an issue of social justice – we know pollution hits the poorest Londoners, who are least likely to own a car, the hardest. I will not stand by while London’s air quality leads to our capital’s children growing up with stunted lungs. The recently expanded ULEZ is another vital step I have taken towards combatting the illegal air in our city and reducing the toxic emissions that are harming our planet.’

Jemima Hartshorn, Founder of the campaign group Mums for Lungs commented on these findings: ‘These findings give real reason for hope – the Mayor’s schemes are having a real impact and the air our children breathe is becoming less polluted. But the data also cannot hide that Londoners are still breathing filthy air, and we need to see more action on cleaning up the air starting with the hotspots, to ensure that all children can breathe safely where they live, study and play.’



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