Poor air quality is one of the greatest risks to human health.
Taking action to improve air quality is easy and can lead to a healthier, happier life and an all-round healthier environment.
Let's #BreatheCleanerAir together!
We want to see an improvement in air quality around schools and key pollution hotspots in Merton, so that residents can breathe cleaner air.
We want those affected by poor air quality to understand the health benefits of breathing cleaner air for themselves and their children, and to change their behaviour to improve air quality in the borough.
By working together to tackle air pollution in Merton, our combined actions will make a difference in the fight for cleaner air.
Download our Air Quality Handbook
Living a more sustainable lifestyle made easy!
Written by Sustainable Merton’s Community Champions, our sustainability handbooks are your step-by-step guide to making simple changes that will help the planet, save you money, improve your wellbeing, and connect you to your community. These locally-focused handbooks are written with you, Merton residents, in mind so you will find lots of shout outs to local businesses, organizations, and spaces.
Our Air Quality Handbook contains creative advice on everything from greening your home, to addressing cycling concerns, to saving fuel in your vehicle. Download it today and share it with your friends, family, and community.
What is air pollution and why is it harmful?
In the UK the most common harmful pollutants found in the air we breathe are particulate matter (PM), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ozone (O3), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO). Emissions are generally linked to combustion and fuel burning, generation of power, and road traffic - one of the primary sources of air pollution in Merton.
So why is air pollution such a big problem for human health?
Breathing in harmful gases irritates the lungs and airways. Particulate matter is especially bad for the respiratory system, as the particles can get lodged deep in your lung tissue. Studies have long shown that exposure to air pollution can lead to a higher risk of cancer, lung disease and diminished cognitive skills in later life. Children are particularly at risk due to their smaller lung capacity and proximity to vehicles exhausts, subjecting them to long term health problems such as asthma and COPD.
Air pollution impacts the environment too.
From global warming and the greenhouse effect to acid rain and smog, the consequences of the constant release of gases into the atmosphere are vast. Ultimately, these factors all cause damage to the Earth’s surface, contaminating water that in turn damages ecosystems and natural habitats. Climate change, rising sea levels, and even the extinction of animal species can all be traced back to air pollution.
Air Quality in Merton: The Numbers
In 2017, 38 out of 50 sites monitored in Merton exceeded the air quality objective of 40 micrograms m-3.
6 of these sites also exceeded the annual mean of 60 micrograms m-3.
Compared to 2016, in which 20 sites were monitored, 1 has stayed at the same level,
9 have increased and 10 have decreased.
Along with many London boroughs, Merton has several air quality black spots where levels of poisonous nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon particulates regularly exceed EU guidelines for clean air, and this dangerous situation will not solve itself.
In February 2017, the Guardian published a piece of research that revealed all schools in London are in areas that exceed the European legal limits of nitrogen dioxide pollution, and the table reveals that Merton schools are high up in the league.
This dangerous situation will not solve itself. Join us in taking action to #BreatheCleanerAir!
An open letter to Merton Councillors and Members of Parliament calling for rapid change to the roads in the borough of Merton.