71% want London Mayor to tackle air pollution

Posted on 16.03.2016

A recent ICM survey, commissioned by Here Now in the run up to the 2016 London Mayoral elections, displays the demand amongst Londoners for a Mayor committed to tackling air pollution and climate change. When questioned “How important do you think it is that the next Mayor of London takes steps to tackle air pollution and climate change by reducing London’s dependency on fossil fuels through greater use of clean energy?” 71% of those surveyed answered “Important”.

Sian Berry, the Green Party mayoral candidate has compared London’s current pollution problem to the deadly smog created by coal fires 60 years ago. Unlike the visibly smoky pollution of the past, London and other UK cities’ current greatest problem is nitrogen dioxide (NO2). About 80% of the NO2 emissions that are exceeding the law are due to transport. If elected, Berry plans to implement an immediate exclusion of the most polluting cars, vans and lorries from central London. Labour hopeful Sadiq Khan has vowed to consult on expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone, while Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith has pledged to introduce tougher rules on heavy goods vehicles – to mention but a few discussions around air pollution within the Mayoral election debates.

But what is so bad about NO2? As Duncan Mounsor, of Enviro Technology Services, described when speaking to The Guardian “These days you can’t see pollution, you can’t smell it or taste it, so you’d be forgiven for thinking there was no pollution – but there certainly is”. N02 is a pollutant that can inflame the lungs and stunt their growth, which increases the risk of respiratory diseases including asthma and lung cancer. It is estimated that more than 50,000 people a year die prematurely as a result of air pollution in the UK alone.

Invisible Dust is working with digital artist Kasia Molga and scientist Professor Frank Kelly, as part of Manchester European City of Science, to create an exciting new project ‘Human Sensor’. Performs will traverse the city wearing air quality responsive illuminating capes created by Molga. This public performance will offer a rare opportunity for the public to engage with the issue of invisible pollutants through a visible, tangible, live artwork.

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