Air quality

Cleaning London's air

Every Londoner deserves to breathe clean air. Together with the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, we are committed to reducing the impact of polluting road vehicles.

Air quality advice

We have air quality advice for each level of daily air pollution.

London's air quality - how bad is it?

We've already made a lot of progress on London's air quality problem, but there's still more work to do. The volume of road traffic in London makes it one of the most polluted places in the UK.

And air pollution is not just a central London problem - 100% of Londoners live in an area where pollution exceeds the latest recommendations from the World Health Organization for particulate matter PM2.5. This is one of the air pollutants thought to have the greatest impact on human health.

How road transport harms our health

Road vehicles are the single biggest cause of London's air pollution. They produce nearly half of all nitrogen oxides and emit tiny particles of rubber and metal - too small to see with the naked eye - into the air we breathe.

Despite recent improvements in air quality, toxic air pollution in the Capital is still the biggest environmental risk to the health of all Londoners, harming our lungs, worsening chronic illnesses such as asthma, lung and heart disease and putting the health of our children at risk. A study from Imperial College London says that in 2019 over 4,000 Londoners died because of the impact of toxic air.

Air quality myth #1

Myth: Only central London is affected by air pollution

FACT: Pollution affects every borough in the city, not just central London

Air quality myth #2

Myth: Road vehicles aren't the main cause of London's air pollution

FACT: Driving polluting vehicles is the single biggest cause, contributing to nearly half of the air pollution in London

Young children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution because it can stunt their lung growth. Research shows that children growing up in heavily polluted streets have a smaller lung capacity than those in cleaner areas - 5% smaller on average.

Air quality myth #3

Myth: You don't need to switch off a car engine when stationary

FACT: Research shows that turning off the engine significantly reduces pollution levels in the surrounding area

Air quality myth #4

Myth: You can always see when air pollution is bad in London

FACT: Most airborne toxic particles are too small to see with the naked eye

What we're doing for air quality

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has helped reduce some harmful pollutants in central London by almost half. We're also cleaning up our bus fleet and taxis, and supporting Londoners to switch to cleaner vehicles.

The ULEZ expansion

Since its launch in 2019, the ULEZ has cut the number of older, polluting vehicles on our roads and contributed to a 44% reduction in roadside nitrogen dioxide within its boundaries.

On 25 October 2021, we expanded the ULEZ to cover all areas within the North (A406) and South (A205) Circular Roads (the North and South Circular Roads themselves are not in the zone). This much larger zone will help to improve air quality for millions of Londoners both inside and outside the zone and to tackle the climate emergency.

A new generation of greener transport

  • Low Emission Zone standards for heavy goods vehicles, vans and specialist vehicles over 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW) and buses, minibuses and coaches over 5 tonnes GVW are in place across most of Greater London
  • We already operate one of the largest zero emission bus fleets in western Europe, with more than 600 electric buses currently operating
  • Our bus fleet meets the highest Euro VI emissions standards
  • All new licensed taxis in London must be zero-emission capable - more than 5,066 already operate in the Capital
  • Together with the Mayor we have funded 307 rapid charge points for electric vehicles. We've also opened London's first rapid charging hub at Stratford International and another at Glass Yard in Woolwich. London now has over 7,000 charge points for electric vehicles, including taxis

Healthier streets

  • We're helping some London boroughs improve air quality by supporting their Low Emission Neighbourhoods - and a city-wide anti-idling campaign - funded by the Mayor's Air Quality Fund
  • Together with the London boroughs, we're creating a growing network of new, upgraded and temporary Cycleways across London that everyone can use
  • We provide free cycle skills online training for all abilities to help you build your confidence and to cycle safely on London's roads
  • In partnership with London boroughs, over 350 School Streets have been created since April 2020. School Streets restrict access to motor traffic on roads outside schools during drop-off and pick-up times
  • We're helping to clean London's air - and encourage biodiversity - by managing our green infrastructure and enhancing our green infrastructure

Today's forecast: Low

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Tomorrow's outlook: Low

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For more information on local pollution, visit the London Air website.

This air quality information is provided by King's College London.