London’s smog-o-meter

We all know that London’s air is dirty and polluted.

But did you know that if we have more than 35 “bad air days” in a year we could get whacked with a £300m fine? So how are we doing?

Darren Johnson explains why we are in this mess here and here. The Mayor’s own health impact assessment found that in 2008 alone there were an equivalent of over 4,000 premature deaths in London due to air pollution.

Where does this figure come from?

The monitoring box on Marylebone Road

Across London, a network of boxes monitor the level of pollution that we breathe in. There are limits on the amount of pollution allowed, which were agreed over a decade ago by our government and all the others in the Europe Union.  Many of the boxes around London regularly measure pollution exceeding that amount. The UK should getg fined an estimated £300m by the European Commission if any one station measures unsafe pollution levels for more than 35 days in the year. 2011 was one of several years that have landed our Government in the dock, and the Mayor and the Government are going everything they can to wriggle out of their responsibility for our health.

Kings College London have set-up a web site to let you explore these boxes, called Air Quality Monitoring Stations.

We’ve taken the data from one box in particular – it sits on Marylebone Road just south of Regents Park, and it exceeds the safe limits a lot. It’s probably the station that is going to tip us over the edge.

But it’s not just busy roads like Marylebone that suffer from really bad air days. Monitoring stations across the capital pick up dangerous levels of pollution throughout the year.

This widget was built using the excellent ScraperWiki tools, and the map is from OpenStreetMap (shared under the Creative Commons attribution share-alike license).

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