London air quality hits six year low amid cost of living crisis

Residents in the UK capital were issued with an air pollution warning spanning several days this month, with wood burning thought to be linked to major spikes in pollutant measurements and visits to the doctor. 

London’s worst air pollution crisis since January 2017 saw the city’s southwestern suburbs suffer the most, with an analysis of the chemical composition of emissions revealing that domestic wood and solid fuel burning was a major cause – contributing between 60 and 70% of the soot particles. 

red bus on road near building during daytime

Last year, Air Quality News reported on a significant increase in online searches for wood burning stoves and sales of logs as Britons began looking for alternatives to central heating in a bid to avoid rocketing energy bills. The wider cost of living crisis has only added more pressure to domestic budgets, with news today that food price inflation has hit 16.7% – its highest level since consumer price watchdog Kantar began keeping records in 2008 – just the latest evidence of how challenging the situation is becoming. 

News that London’s air pollution levels have reached their highest in more than half a decade paints a particularly stark picture of ineffective policies designed to prevent such increases. Last year, we exclusively revealed that London councils had issued zero fines for the use of wood-burning stoves despite most of the city being designated a Smoke Controlled Area. 

Image: Arlinda


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