The old moniker still affectionately applied to London, ‘the big smoke’ was born out of the pollution the city was famed for, caused by coal burned on fires, the smoke ascended and smog descended veiling the city in a sepia choking gloom, the most notable of these was 1956 when what was called the “the great smog” fell upon the city and didn’t lift for five days
Until recently it was believed the great smog was responsible for 4,000 deaths; this figure has now been realistically estimated to 10,000 deaths and many tens of thousands possibly, in the hundreds more, suffered the ill effects of 1956.
We are told that the current concentrations of pollutants in the city are not high enough to be harmful to human health. This in spite of London gaining a reputation as being one of the most polluted cities in Europe, with 10,000 premature deaths a year being attributed to pollution and Londoners raising concerns that pollution is one of their biggest health concerns worrying them.
London is one of a number of UK cities that has been in breach of EU safety limits regarding two key pollutants known as PM2,5S and toxic nitrogen dioxide (formed when fuel is burned at high temperatures). After five years this has culminated in a supreme court ruling in April, demanding the government publish a clean up plan by the end of the year and hopefully ending an nonchalant and a benign ‘pickwickian attitude’ that London junk air goes with the territory.
The coal burning fires of the past have been consigned to history, and ambient country hotels, finding a coal merchant in London now is like looking for a needle in a haystack or, seeing a harmful particle coming your way in the air.
Our pollution legacy now, is land transport what makes up for 63% of our junk air, the rest is spread across home heating and building developments the rest is listed as other, diesel cars, buses lorries all create environmental pollutants, that when inhaled can cause an almost endless list ailments, tiredness, headaches, sore muscles, painful and cracking joints, nail discolouration, pains in fingers and toes, numb hands, nosebleeds, swollen glands, urine changes, pains in hips back and arms, itching eyes and ears, cold sweats, susceptibility to colds, red burning swollen eyes.
The respiratory system and lungs are among the first to be assailed by air Bourne pollutants where serious damage occurs, heart disease, heart attacks and cancers.
Research is being carried out, of the effects pollution has on our mental status, impairing our cognitive functioning, the cognitive development of children and its relationship to depression. This research may take a while before data is fully validated, or the damage is done!
We have been here before, pollution give the city its pet name, its as old as time and immemorial and just one of the historical responses of the 1800’s too, it was the “the fresh air scheme” were sickly children from the city were taken to Folkstone for the day to get a lungful of air that wasn’t second, third or fourth hand and without soot.
The government missed numerous nudges, cue’s and scoldings on pollution for five years actually running up the longest infringement of EU law, history and could be fined more than a clean up plan, as fines of 300 million a year could be imposed, worse of all safety levels of pollution may not be brought under control until 2030.
Sadig Khan’s first major policy announcement was to tackle London’s air pollution levels, stating he is prepared to implement big, bold and sometimes difficult policies to combat pollution, promising to act before an emergency, and although he seems to be having a wobble on the garden bridge project, he is going in the green direction to purify the air. Our park’s already provide a ready made battlefield to engage pollution, it wouldn’t cost the earth enhancing what we already have, and encouraging us to take part in it. By turning some of the parkland over, to city allotments public horticultural projects and keeping them well lit and policed opened around the clock,because we are going to have to source fresh air or fresher air in the capitol as we would source free wi-fi, good coffee or a meal deal.
getting through the SHIL