Air pollution and public health

Air pollution has an impact on everyone living and working in London. However, it is the most vulnerable people in our city such as children, older people and those with heart and respiratory conditions, who feel the effects most. People living in deprived areas are also more affected by poor air quality, in part because these areas are often near busy roads, which tend to have higher levels of road traffic pollution.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) estimated that in 2008 there were 4,267 deaths attributable to long-term exposure to small particles. More information about air quality and health can be found in our useful documents.

The health impacts of the two pollutants of concern in London are listed below.

Particulate matter (PM):

  • Particulate pollution can harm the human respiratory and cardiovascular systems - it is linked to asthma and mortality.
  • Research shows that particles with a diameter of ten microns and smaller (PM10) are likely to be inhaled deep into the respiratory tract.
  • As smaller particles can penetrate deeper, the health impacts of PM2.5 are especially significant.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2):

  • At high concentrations, NO2 causes inflammation of the airways.
  • Long-term exposure can affect lung function and respiratory symptoms - it can also increase asthma symptoms.
  • The health impacts of NO2 are less well understood than those of PM10, as less research has been undertaken in this area.

Air quality guidance for public health professionals

Following the passage of the Health and Social Care Act there will be a statutory Health and Wellbeing Board in each borough from April 2013, which will be required to publish a borough wide Health and Wellbeing Strategy. These new Strategies will be based upon the local health priorities identified in the borough’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA).

The Mayor is committed to including air quality in the wider public health agenda in London where appropriate. As such the GLA has produced bespoke air quality guidance documents for public health professionals in each borough, which includes available information on air pollutant concentrations and health impacts.

These documents have been completed for the boroughs below, with the remaining boroughs being prioritised according to the timescales for finalising their JSNAs.

Related documentsSize
London Borough of Bexley1.58 MB
London Borough of Camden1.18 MB
City of London688 KB
London Borough of Enfield1.71 MB
Royal Borough of Greenwich1.19 MB
London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham1.61 MB
London Borough of Haringey2.12 MB
London Borough of Havering1.58 MB
London Borough of Islington1.62 MB
London Borough of Lewisham2.18 MB
London Borough of Sutton1.58 MB
London Borough of Waltham Forest12.24 MB
London Borough of Wandsworth1.22 MB
City of Westminster2.03 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - LB Newham.pdf1.67 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals LB Brent.pdf1.63 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals LB Ealing.pdf1.91 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals LB Redbridge.pdf1.76 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals LB Richmond.pdf1.59 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - LB Hounslow.pdf1.6 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals LB Southwark.pdf1.52 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - LB Hackney.pdf1.65 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - LB Tower Hamlets.pdf1.69 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - RB Kensington and Chelsea.pdf1.65 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - LB Hillingdon.pdf1.58 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - LB Barking and Dagenham.pdf1.49 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - LB Barnet.pdf1.57 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - LB Bromley.pdf1.47 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - LB Croydon.pdf1.51 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - LB Harrow.pdf1.6 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - LB Lambeth.pdf1.67 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - LB Merton.pdf1.57 MB
Air Quality for Public Health Professionals - RB Kingston upon Thames.pdf1.41 MB