In March 2018, we loaned an AQMesh air monitor and measured hourly NO2 levels for two weeks next to the roadside on West Hill and two weeks next to the air monitoring reference station on Putney High Street. The hourly NO2 readings are shown in the image above. Can you tell which half of the graph is for Putney High Street?
The law requires that hourly measurements of NO2 must not exceed 200ugm3 more than 18 times in a year. At 200ugm3 NO2 is a toxic gas. Although the weather during our monitoring was cold and windy, we recorded hourly NO2 levels as high as 170ugm3 on West Hill and as high as 192ugm3 on Putney High Street.
Putney High Street breached the legal NO2 hourly limit in March this year. A significant improvement on previous years with over 1200 exceedances reported in 2016.
West Hill likely exceeds the EU and UK hourly NO2 legal limit of 200ugm3 no more than 18 times a year but hourly NO2 levels are not being continuously measured on West Hill so there is no evidence of any exceedances and no action to warn people on West Hill about the harmful air they are breathing every day.
From the monitoring data we gathered, some of the highest NO2 levels coincides with the time thousands of residents are travelling to work, nursery and school. There’s a nursery, a hospital, residential estates, a care home for the elderly and a school with other 1100 children all a pavements width away from lanes of start-stop-idling traffic. During peak times vehicles accelerate and brake around forty times and idle for around eight minutes per mile.
West Hill has several kerbside bus stop shelters and every morning residents wait for the 170 bus whilst HGV’s, coaches, trucks, vans and cars idle directly in front of them. They are breathing high concentrated levels of toxic exhaust. Babies in buggies and young children are closer to the vehicle exhaust and are exposed to even higher concentrations.
Reducing the number of times vehicles accelerate and brake and the amount of time vehicles spend idling on West Hill will significantly reduce NO2 levels.
Preventing vehicles idling directly in front of kerbside bus stop shelters will reduce the high concentration of harmful toxic vehicle exhaust the people waiting for the 170 bus are exposed to.
A living green shield along the boundary of Ashcroft Academy and the road will reduce the amount of traffic exhaust that reaches the playground of the school with 1100 children.
I’m liaising with Wandsworth Council and TfL on my proposed West Hill Pollution Solution and I’m hopeful that the Department for Transport will agree a ‘keep clear’ type road marking for use in front of kerbside bus stop shelters.
The solutions for West Hill may help reduce peak time NO2 levels and public exposure in other areas of the UK that have high NO2 levels due to start-stop idling traffic.
Please show your support by signing our petition for keep clear road markings at kerbside bus stop shelters.
Please donate towards the cost of an AQMesh air monitor to continuously measure hourly NO2 levels on West Hill.