Clean Air For London

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We are dying to breathe...

Breathing is something most people take for granted and what the average person does about 14,000 times a day. Yet many areas in London have pollution levels that exceed legal limits. It is not uncommon to see headlines like "London reaches legal air pollution limit just one month into the new year", or "Oxford St breaks pollution limit with illegal levels of toxic air on 127 days this year". According to the British Medical Journal, "Most of London’s NHS facilities exceed legal air pollution limits" with some of London’s biggest teaching hospitals located in areas with air pollution levels well above legal limits. Despite this, most people treat our main source of sustaining human life as an after-thought.

The "First death linked to air pollution" was made in the report looking into the cause of the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah in 2013. Government Asthma advisor Prof Stephen Holgate found a 'striking association' with Ella's fatality five years ago and recorded spikes in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PM10s, the most noxious pollutants. The report stated that there was a "real prospect that without unlawful levels of air pollution, Ella would not have died".

We react in horror to accounts of people gassed to death and think how cruel, unkind and unthinkable it is. Yet it is not dissimilar to what happens on our streets each day. Longterm exposure to lower doses of toxic gas does not make those gases any less toxic or the effects any less deleterious to human heatlth. Clean dry air typically consists of 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide and small amounts of other gases. Polluted air contains the following primary (direct sources of pollution) and secondary (reactions that occur when the separate pollutants reacting with one another in the environment:

* Particulate matter (PM)

* Hydrocarbons (HC)

* Nitrogen oxides (NOx)

* Carbon monoxide (CO)

* Sulfur dioxide (SO2)

* Hazardous air pollutants (toxins) linked to birth defects, cancer and other serious illnesses.

* Greenhouse gases

If this was not bad enough. We are now facing the risk of inhaling microplastics.

Clean air, clean food and clean water is essential for good health and well-being. No amount of running, or juicing can reverse the devastating long-term effects of pollution on human health and the environment. It affects virtually every organ in the body and leads to a host of chronic conditions, including respiratory problems, numerous cancers, cardiovascular disease, infertility problems nervous system damage.

The first Clean Air Act came into force in 1956 in response to the great smog of London of 1952 and to tackle buildings visibly black with soot. The original act and subsequent revisions helped improve air quality. The nature of air pollution has since changed to something more insidious in nature. It is now a silent killer that poses risks not only to ourselves and our loved ones. A government report published this year describes poor air quality as the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK.

We have a moral obligation to safeguard our environment not only for our own well being, but for posterity. Tackling air pollution is complex and requires a concerted approach that addresses education and the actions the individuals, the government, industry and NGOs can take to reduce environmental pollution. It is for this reason that I do not propose any specific action. The objective of this petition is to raise awareness and gather support to get the topic tabled on the agenda at local and at national level.

“Big things have small beginnings.” - T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia.

Sign this petition to help get this very important matter on the agenda. Let's get the ball rolling today for a better tomorrow.

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