Monday, May 25, 2015

Pollution monitoring in Catford and Hither Green - some shocking results

Back in February a small group of us undertook some air pollution monitoring in Catford and Hither Green (basically covering the Corbett and Culverley Green estates and slightly beyond). This was made possible through funding and support from Mapping for Change. We put up 30 nitrogen dioxide monitoring tubes - that look like this:

We put them on lamp posts and other street furniture, left them up for a month, took them down then sent them off via Mapping for Change to a lab to be analysed to determine the level of nitrogen dioxide in the air in that area. The results are in the map above. Anything between 30 and 39 is amber and is considered moderate air pollution. This would be considered harmful to health. You can see that the level outside Torridon Infant School is 34.

The level outside Rushey Green school was 36.

Anything 40 and above is above the EU legal limit. You can see that there are a number of places where the nitrogen dioxide levels exceed 40, mainly on the main roads such as Rushey Green, Bromley Road, Verdant Lane, Hither Green Lane and Sandhurst Road. What these all have in common of course is that they are on bus routes and our buses are unfortunately some of the worst polluting vehicles on out streets. Hazelbank Road also came out as red, this is a road often used as a rat run by drivers wanting to avoid the South Circular.

Ah yes, the South Circular. You'll see that some of the circles on the map are black. These are places where pollution was more than 1.5 times the EU legal limit - and these are all on the South Circular road. Those of us who live here know that the traffic on this road is horrendous and that it is snarled up at all times of the day and sometimes night! Now we know that the pollution on this road is harming our health.

Low emission zone? Ha ha.

Incidentally, Lewisham Council monitors air pollution across the borough and publishes a report annually on it. The area we covered is in two Air Quality Management Areas - which means the council recognises there is a problem and is supposed to take steps to actively reduce pollution in the area. However, it only monitors three locations in our area at present, and none of these are in the most polluted places. Incidentally, the council monitors outside Torridon Junior School and the results the council is showing for that location over the years are very similar to what we found outside the Infants. This is not a new problem.

When we got the results we were shocked, so we went to the papers with our findings. We had articles featuring our work in the South London Press and News Shopper:

Since then I've arranged to meet with both the council and our MP, Heidi Alexander, to discuss the results and consider what can be done about air quality in our area. I'd like to put pressure on Transport for London to speed up the introduction of hybrid buses on routes through residential areas like ours and I also want the council to consider stopping rat running traffic on roads like Verdant Lane and Dowanhill/Hazelbank Roads. It was also announced last week that councils may be able to opt in to the ultra low emission zone when it is introduced in 2020, and I think Lewisham should definitely do this if that becomes possible. I'll report back on the results of my discussions in due course!