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.
Road transport is one of the primary sources of pollution in Merton and leaving engines running while stationary is only adding to the problem. High numbers of idling vehicles outside schools is a particular concern for child health, as harmful emissions can stunt lung growth and affect lung capacity.
Raising awareness of the issue is key, as a recent survey by TfL found that almost one in two Londoners did not realise vehicles were the main cause of air pollution. The survey also found that more than half of Londoners think you can always see when pollution is bad in the capital, when in fact many pollutants are invisible and can be present in air that looks ‘clean’.
As part of Merton's Air Quality Action Plan, the Council's anti-idling campaign aims to minimise vehicle emissions around key locations such as schools, taxi-ranks, Air Quality Focus Areas and hotspots.
Action 59 of the plan states that anti-idling is to be adopted as an enforcement action in the borough with associated signage in problem areas and 'No Idling' signs have recently been installed across the borough to encourage drivers to turn off their engines while waiting or in traffic.
The latest issue of My Merton magazine takes a closer look at air quality action in the borough and highlights some of the key things we can all do to help improve the quality of the air we breathe for both our own health and the environment.