Pollution: Havering has the highest rates of chronic lung disease in London

Air pollution over London. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA

Air pollution over London. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Havering had the highest number of cases in London of a chronic lung disease which has been associated with air pollution in the last year, new figures reveal.

Caroline Russell, a Green Party London Assembly member, met with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan on Thursday, January 18 to find out when he will meet his manifesto promise to “restore London’s air quality to legal and safe levels” .

She expressed concerns that only two of the worst boroughs for the lung disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) will be covered by the Mayor’s clean air zone.

Outer London boroughs such as Havering, Barking and Dagenham, and Bromley are not included in the clean area zone, despite registering high numbers of cases of COPD.

From April 8, 2019, most vehicles will need to meet exhaust emission standards or pay a daily charge when travelling through London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

The area covered by the ULEZ is the same area as the Congestion Charging Zone and will be clearly signposted with road signs showing where it applies.

Havering’s Clinical Commissioning Group reported 4,695 reported cases of COPD from 2016 to 2017, according to figures from the British Lung Foundation.

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Ms Russell said: “These figures from the British Lung Foundation make for stark reading, and no one, especially those already suffering from health conditions exacerbated by pollution, should be excluded from breathing safe and clean air.”

A spokesman from Havering Council said: “The number of people living with COPD is a concern but it’s important to acknowledge that we have the highest population of over 65s in London, who are more vulnerable to the effects of poor air quality, and that most cases of COPD in the borough are caused by smoking.

“We have a dedicated telephone counselling service for residents wishing to stop smoking.

“While Havering continues to have some of the best air quality in London, we are determined to improve it further. We have recently launched a public consultation for our new Air Quality Action Plan which sets out our priorities to reduce air pollution over the next eight years.

“This includes calling for greener buses, the planting of more trees and promoting sustainable travel, all of which will help anyone living with a lung condition, which is aggravated by poor air quality.”

At the launch of the zone in November, 2017, Mr Khan said: “I can’t ignore the shameful fact that London’s air is so toxic it harms children’s lungs, exacerbates chronic illness and contributes to thousands of premature deaths each year.

“Following the successful introduction of the T-Charge, and confirmation of the central London ULEZ, I am moving ahead with the next stage of my plan to expand the Ultra-Low Emission Zone up to the busy north and south circular roads.”

Ms Russell added: “I urge all Londoners to respond to the Mayor’s consultation and tell him that everyone should be able to trust the air they breathe.”

The Mayor’s latest ULEZ consultation closes on February 28, 2018.