Campaigners call for cleaner air in Putney High Street

Campaigners are demanding action over the high levels of pollution on a Putney street which is one of the most polluted roads in London.

Pollution levels in the High Street in Putney breaks EU laws on levels of polluting Nitrogen dioxide gas (NO2) on an almost daily basis thanks to the high quantity of bus and car traffic.

High levels of NO2 particles can cause lung damage, aggravation of respiratory diseases and long term exposure contributes to the deaths of scores of people in the borough each year according to the Mayor’s Health Study.

Since 2010, EU rules stated that NO2 levels cannot exceed 200mg per cube metre more than 18 times in a calendar year and governments can be fined for breaching these levels.

In 2010 the street broke that limit 75 times in the first three weeks, and this year so far the levels have exceeded for 1,097 hours.

Suggestions for reducing the pollution levels including forcing bus drivers to turn off their engines when stationary in the bus garage on the street and even moving the bus garage itself.

But despite the huge international outcry about pollution in Beijing over pollution levels there seems no chance that pollution in Putney will be reduced to an acceptable level by the time of the London Olympics next year.

Hugh Samuel, convenor of the Putney Society's transport panel, said: "We think that people in the high street are suffering but we do not know how it affects people in other areas.

"We are concerned for children and old people being blasted with these fumes and we will campaign for a reduction of emissions from buses and taxis and we want more electric and hydrogen buses on the roads to help this."

There are currently three air monitoring stations in Putney, two on the High Street and one on Felsham Road.

But the society is setting up more independent monitoring devices around roads in Putney to see what the impact of air pollution is having on the rest of the town.

A number of Putney residents also expressed their concerns.

Matti Lehtl, 28 who works in Putney Cycles and lives on St John's Hill said: "Being a major thoroughfare for transport, it is a busy high street. But there's too much traffic and being in an area of active people, pollution will affect them as it will enter their lungs."

"It's a green area but also a very traffic heavy area."

Sally Arvanitis, who runs the Sally@St Mary's Cafe on the high street and lives on Dover House Road, said: "I'm noticing the pollution a lot, and is causing people with asthma problems, including my mum, who helps me out at the cafe.

"We need to encourage more people to get on their bikes. We need less mothers driving one child in a 4x4's and use more car share schemes to take kids to school.

"They have to bombard the public with the facts the pollution is getting worse and worse and put the ball back in the court of people who live in the area."

Simon Birkitt, founder of the Campaign for Clean Air in London, feels the public still need educating on what damage pollution can cause.

He said: "It is great to see people within boroughs campaigning for improvements in their local streets and Putney is a great example of that because this needs to driven at a local level.

"But we need a massive campaign to build the public understanding of the dangers of pollution."

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