AIR POLLUTION IN ISLINGTON

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By Kajsa Wall

Islington is one of the top ten most air polluted London boroughs, according to research from the London Assembly which the Mayor of London has called “over simplistic.”

Air pollution is now the second highest cause of premature death in Islington,  KAJSAaccording to Friends of the Earth’s Islington coordinator Katarina Korytkova.

Only smoking is responsible for more premature deaths in the borough, with around 100 victims a year said Mrs Korytkova.

She added: “[Air pollution] is also linked to asthma, chronic respiratory diseases, lung cancer or cardiovascular diseases.”

Research conducted by the Health and Environment Committee in the London Assembly revealed that 7.9% of deaths in Islington are contributed to by man-made polluted air particles.

This is higher than the average in England of 5.6%.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Air quality is undoubtedly a serious health issue, but this report presents complex statistical data in an overly simplistic and alarmist manner.

“In 2010, the Mayor commissioned detailed research into the health impacts of air quality and these findings are already informing ambitious plans to drive down harmful emissions in the capital.”

Islington’s Friends of the Earth coordinator still thinks people in the borough should be concerned about the figures.

Mrs Korytkova added: “Residents should use their cars less frequently, spend as much time as possible in the parks, and find more opportunities to breath clean air.”

According to Mrs Korytkova there are still issues that the government needs to tackle.

She said: “[They should] impose higher taxes on polluters and invest in creating better cycling infrastructure, pedestrian only public spaces and cleaner buses and trains.”

During her years as an environmentalist and member of Friends of the Earth, Katarina Korytkova has seen a change in peoples’ attitude towards climate change.

“I have noticed that members of [the] general public are becoming more aware of the consequences of future climate change, and more people are expressing higher support and interest to tackle the issues connected.”

Local resident and housewife Anna Lay, 35, is surprised by the figures that emerged, but still thinks that emissions will decrease in time since the government have introduced higher admissions for older vehicles.

Mrs Lay said: “I didn’t realise it [air pollution] was so high but I wouldn’t leave Islington [because of it].”

She does not think her family contributes much to the air pollution in Islington.

Mrs Lay added: “We don’t drive; we walk or take the bus or the tube.”

If the level of air pollution does not decrease, the government, and possibly the Greater London Authority (GLA) and London Councils, could face fines of up to £700 million from the European Union.

Chair of the Health and Environment Committee in the London Assembly, Murad Qureshi said: “This is a silent killer.”

He said “The high figure of air pollution in Islington is caused by the effect from the major air pollution hotspot, central London, and the heavy road traffic in the Islington borough.”

Mr Qureshi added: “[It is] in particular diesel cars which we can point to as contributing to this above average percentage of deaths.”

The figures from the research conducted by the Health and Environment Committee shows that 8.3% of deaths in Westminster were triggered by polluted air particles in 2010.

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