Air Quality inequality: City Hall report highlights greater impacts in deprived areas

A new report, commissioned by the Mayor of London’s office in City Hall highlights the manner in which poor air quality is more likely to afflict ethnic groups and immigrant communities in the city.

Sadiq Khan has a canny habit of dropping the occasional scientific bombshell into the ULEZ expansion debate, every now and again. Just to remind people what the whole thing’s actually about. This report – as with April’s evidence note – is more a summary of previous work than anything new in itself.

a black and white photo of a building with windows

The four key points highlighted at the top of the press release are:

  • The most deprived communities of London are more likely to live in the most polluted areas
  • Black Londoners are more likely to live in areas with more polluted air
  • Diaspora immigrant communities are also more likely to live in areas with more polluted air
  • The whole population of London is forecast to remain exposed to NO2 and PM2.5 concentrations above the recommended WHO air quality guidelines in 2030, unless further significant action is taken to reduce concentrations

The report looks at research published between 2013 and 2021 while also highlighting the improvement in air quality during that time. 

It is revealed that the areas of London least burdened by poor quality air have disproportionately small ethic populations and that the worst air quality is particularly affecting black Londoners. Highlighting Outer London, the area into which the ULEZ is about to expand, it is observed that while Black Asian and minority ethnic Londoners make up 44% of the population in the most polluted neighbourhoods, they represent only 29% of residents in the least polluted – based on NO2 emissions.

Sadiq Khan, said: ‘This new analysis shows that we are living in a divided city where poorer Londoners, Black, Asian and minority ethnic Londoners, and those from immigrant backgrounds breathe more polluted air – this is simply unacceptable.

‘Air quality is a matter of social justice and racial justice, that is why I am expanding the ULEZ in August this year, to enable five million more Londoners – of all backgrounds and ethnicities – to breathe cleaner air. I’m determined to continue building a better London for everyone – a safer, fairer, greener and more prosperous city for all.’

Agnes Agyepong, CEO Global Black Maternal Health said: ‘If we could see the air that we breathe, we would see the inequalities in the air in different communities in London. Air pollution is an invisible killer, and Black communities are more likely to suffer the fatal effects of air pollution than other communities.’


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