I visited Putney High Street this morning to collect the AQMesh air monitor that’s been collocating with the official air pollution reference station. I’ve taken this monitor and mounted it on a signpost on West Hill.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Putney High Street’s Dirty Big Sister – West Hill, it’s a one mile stretch of the A3, where three lanes of traffic bottleneck into a single lane, brake and accelerate 40-50 times and idle for 12 minutes before merging with the South Circular. This happens at the time 1200 children make their way to the nursey and school on West Hill and thousands of local residents head off to work.
Rather than the high number of diesel buses on Putney High Street, West Hill has high number of diesel HGVs, coaches, trucks, lorries and vans.
Rather than lots of shops, West Hill has thousands of homes, a nursery, a hospital, a care home for the elderly and a school with over 1100 young children.
West Hill is a Low Emission Zone (LEZ). This has not deterred the thousands of large diesel vehicles using West Hill to access Central London. The most polluting diesel vehicles simply pay to repeatedly stop and idle in West Hill’s congested traffic.
There’s no evidence of any other action being taken to lower pollution levels on West Hill or to help reduce exposure.
West Hill is apparently not a priority location. There is no evidence that hourly nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels breach EU and UK legal limits, as they do on Putney High Street, Brixton Road and other now infamous pollution hotspots that are being monitored.
And there’s the problem. If hourly NO2 levels are not being measured, then there’s no evidence of exceedance and no action to reduce local pollution levels.
The closest air reference station is miles away from West Hill. We can no longer solely rely on modelling and estimates when thousands of lives are at stake and our children’s lung growth is being stunted.
AQMesh is a fully developed and independently evaluated small sensor outdoor air quality monitoring system, manufactured in the UK by Environmental Instruments Ltd. and in use worldwide since 2012. Over the coming months you’ll hear more about localised air monitoring which will transform the way we measure pollution in our cities and underpin the targeted local action we need to reduce the toxic air we breathe.
West Hill’s AQMesh monitor is the first to be up and running in London but we need hundreds to continuously measure pollution levels at every nursey and school on busy roads and at all the other pollution hotspots not currently being monitored.
Help us fundraise to get as many of these monitors as we can, as quickly as we can.
We’ll continue to share regular updates on social media: @LittleNinjaUK.
Thank you for your support