London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for urgent action after analysis showed every hospital and medical centre in the capital is in an area the World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies as having toxic air pollution.
The new analysis, based on the latest London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, found that, while hospitals and medical centres in the city met the legal UK air quality limits, they still failed the stricter WHO guidelines around the two main air pollutants of concern – nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter.
Speaking ahead of a visit to Evelina London Children’s Hospital, Mr Khan said: “We know toxic air pollution stunts the growth of children’s lungs and worsens chronic illnesses such as asthma, lung and heart disease.
“That is why it is unacceptable that all of London’s hospitals, medical centres and care homes, which look after some of the most vulnerable Londoners when they are most unwell, are in areas which exceed the World Health Organisation guideline limit for pollution.
“Tackling air pollution in our city has been a priority for me since I was first elected in 2016 and I’m more determined than ever to do everything I can to consign air pollution to the history books.
“We simply don’t have time to waste and I’m not willing to put off the action we can take a moment longer than necessary.
“Steps to tackle air pollution will also help tackle the climate crisis and I’m determined that we do everything possible to protect Londoners’ health both now and in the generations to come.”
As part of City Hall’s statement, Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh) chief executive Mat Shaw said: “Here at Gosh we know how important it is that urgent action is taken to tackle air quality around hospitals and we see first-hand the impact of air pollution on the children and families that we care for.
“The children we see have the right to clean air, particularly when coming to hospital,” he added.
It comes after the mother of a schoolgirl who died from asthma linked to dirty air urged political leaders to tackle air pollution to stop the next generation being victims of future pandemics.
Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s daughter Ella was nine when in 2013 she suffered a fatal asthma attack, later linked by a coroner to her exposure to severe air pollution from living 25 metres from the South Circular in Lewisham, south-east London.
Speaking to the London Assembly’s environment committee on January 27, Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah called for greater education on the dangers of exposure to polluted air, with a public information campaign similar to that for smoking.
She pointed to the role air pollution played in the pandemic, calling for it to be part of the terms of reference in the future Covid-19 public inquiry.