Death from above - are you for or against?

Dan Miller: [after the car runs out of gas] Well, we gave it a good shot. Nobody can say we didn't. 
- The Mist


The area under consideration

Lewisham Council is asking residents of Honor Oak and Brockley to tell them whether they would like to suffer from respiratory diseases or not:. For the launch of a new consultation about air quality in the area, they say:

Where levels are being exceeded at a specific location, a computer model is used to predict the extent of the area that is above the target. Monitoring data and modelling shows that areas around Brockley Rise, Stondon Park and Honor Oak Park are failing to meet the standards for nitrogen dioxide. As a result the Council is now obliged to declare an Air Quality Management Area covering these locations as a minimum.

However the Council can choose to extend the Air Quality Management Area beyond these locations. This is particularly relevant when dealing with modelled data which has a degree of error associated with it. It is also useful to consider that actions focused on a small geographical area have the potential to simply displace the problem. Once the Air Quality Management Area is designated, the Council will produce an action plan for the area setting out the measures and policies it will use to deliver improvements.

To tackle the specific problem of nitrogen dioxide in the Honor Oak Park and Brockley Rise area (which is largely caused by motor vehicles, but also other forms of combustion such as heating) actions might include the improvement of facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, measures to tackle congestion and requiring that emissions from new developments are reduced.

We are seeking your comments and opinions on three different options for the extent of the area to be designated and into which we will introduce measures to reduce emissions:

Option 1 (pink shading on the map above): The minimum area option that would cover just the areas predicted to exceed the National Air Quality Objective for nitrogen dioxide (40µg/m3 as an annual average).
Option 2 (pink and yellow shading): The minimum area plus a 25 metre ‘buffer’ zone to allow for errors in the predictions.
Option 3 (pink and yellow and green shading): The whole area north of the south circular (A205) that does not already lie within an AQMA.

If you would like to make a comment and/or indicate your preference, please visit http://lewisham-consult.objective.co.uk/portal.

Here's what the Clean Air Trust says about Nitrogen oxide: 

Health Effects: Short-term exposure may cause increased respiratory illness in young children and harm lung function in people with existing respiratory illnesses. Long-term exposure may lead to increased susceptibility to respiratory infection and may cause alterations in the lung. (Nitrogen oxides also can be transformed in the atmosphere to ozone of fine particulate soot - which are both associated with serious adverse health effects.)

Environmental Effects: Nitrogen oxides help form acid rain.

Sources: Cars, trucks and electric power plants are dominant sources. Home heaters and gas stoves can produce nitrogen dioxide inside homes.

32 comments:

AliAliAfro said...

I live in the green zone.

It is great that someone measures air quality and that their are laws that means action must be taken when air quality is bad. It is also great that Lewisham council are engaging with local residents.

What is not so great is that we are being asked to vote on how large the zone should be without knowing what the enforcement plan is and how the enforcement measures might affect us.

Do i want clean air - yes please. Am I concerned that I might get lumbered with some weird planning restrictions - yes.

You can't just say bad air quality is bad, who wants some good stuff to fix it? Its not as simple as that.

A Doctor writes a prescription for a specific dose (chosen based on scientific research) and the user is warned of the possible side effects.

Lewisham - As someone once said: Your love is like Bad Medicine!

Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued by the stray blob of pink at the junction of Brockley Grove with Merritt Road and Huxbear Street. What's that all about?

Anonymous said...

Didn't they recently spend money to increase and speed up traffic in Brockley Cross ???

That would increase pollution...

Anonymous said...

Air pollution is the least of brockley's problems

headhunter said...

Actually, speeding up traffic doesn't necessarily make pollution worse, what makes pollution worse is cars speeding and slowing down rather than driving at a constant speed, however if you create capacity for traffic to move faster you're likely to get more traffic. What would be ideal is for traffic to move at a steady, fairly slow speed rather than speeding between lights and junctions and then braking hard...

George Butler said...

@Alialiafro - follow the link to the council's survey and you'll see a supporting documents section, which details a range of actions the council are proposing. The document is dated 2008 so it might be out of date, but nonetheless there are some pragmatic things they want to do (some they are probably already doing).

AliAliAfro said...

Thanks George.

I Found the doc you were talking about but it's not very easy to spot if Lewisham don't tell you its there...

Anonymous said...

I was born in London and lived here in SE my whole life and I don't have any respiratory problems. Who are these people that are coming down with these problems ? Country folk who've moved to the big city ?

Anonymous said...

What about emissions from all the air traffic flying over?

Anonymous said...

"Actually, speeding up traffic doesn't necessarily make pollution worse, what makes pollution worse is cars speeding and slowing down rather than driving at a constant speed, however if you create capacity for traffic to move faster you're likely to get more traffic. What would be ideal is for traffic to move at a steady, fairly slow speed rather than speeding between lights and junctions and then braking hard..."

Which is why we need to design streets so that drivers are forced to drive at a slower, more constant speed.

The recent changes to Wickham Road seem to illustrate how not to do it. Recently paved over (appreciated), but the speed humps have been lowered, which means drivers motoring down the road at excessive speed.

It's supposed to be a 20mph zone, but just putting the signs up is not going to achieve compliance.

Anonymous said...

Over 20% of the adult population still smoke, which is a problem several degrees more significant for lung health than this rather trifling risk, which is probably only of interest to neurotics.

Brockley Nick said...

"Over 20% of the adult population still smoke, which is a problem several degrees more significant for lung health"

Irrelevant whataboutery - no-one says smoking is not an issue - you'll find there's been quite a lot of state intervention in this area.

"than this rather trifling risk, which is probably only of interest to neurotics."

Completely wrong. 4,300 Londoners killed a year by air pollution http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8591763.stm

headhunter said...

'the recent changes to Wickham Road seem to illustrate how not to do it. Recently paved over (appreciated), but the speed humps have been lowered, which means drivers motoring down the road at excessive speed.'

I agree, cars are now able to drive much more quickly on Wickham road, it seems strange that Lewisham council was 1 of the first councils to implement 20 mph limits yet has made it easier for cars to speed in Wickham road. The humps are so low now they may as well not be there...

Anonymous said...

A good honest 40mph is what's needed in these parts - get cars past sooner, so smoke doesn't hang around, people get to their destinations and importantly we KEEP LONDON MOVING!!!

Anonymous said...

I get very annoyed when people want to turn right off a main road and have to wait, holding up traffic on their side and oncoming traffic do not flash them through even though it would not inconvenience them in the slightest (and I have to fight off road rage if the oncoming cars are actually stuck in traffic themselves). I believe if people just had a bit more courtesy, and actually in most cases are just a bit more aware of their fellow road user it would get London moving a lot quicker and avoid a lot of traffic build up all over the place.

I've thought this for quite a while that Boris should get on the airwaves so people, whilst in their cars could hear him say, "be courteous to your fellow drivers and let them through, it will improve traffic congestion no end".

I'm sure a lot of people just need a bit of a nudge and reminder that it's ok to let people through.

...I could on the other hand just be wholly naive to the ignorance of the majority of London road users

Anonymous said...

The thing about "letting people through" is that the person making the turn suspends all their judgement, believes the person who's flashing them, and turns into an oncoming motorbike. The highway code actually says not to do it.

The previous Anon said...

The highway code tells you not to do it does it? Where's it say that then?

Anonymous said...

The highway code tells you not to believe people who imply you're safe to move by flashing lights.

Anonymous said...

So you NEVER let any body in?

Anonymous said...

what about a hand gesture?

Anonymous said...

what about you just stopping, leaving a gap but not flashing your lights?

Anonymous said...

what about if you don't believe him but you do look in your mirror, check that no one will be in danger, having already had your signals on, you would then perform the manouver?

Anonymous said...

"about 4,300 people a year in London could be dying prematurely, mainly as a result of poor air quality or conditions such as asthma, heart disease and respiratory illness." Anyone with a scientific education won't find it hard to read between the lines here.

The tiny contribution of air pollution to the 'premature deaths' of these people is so small I doubt it can be measured epidemiologically with any degree of rigour. Actually a lot of these unfortunate people will have developed heart disease and COPD because of avoidable lifestyle factors, such as smoking, that there are clinically effective treatments now available for. However even if we wanted to do something about air pollution, we can't really, and even if we could it would make little difference in terms of public health. If you want less people to die early then this is a trivial issue, of interest only to the neurotic and the politically motivated car hater.

Brockley Nick said...

Well I'll believe you if you can provide some links to support your assertions.

Brockley Nick said...

Sorry, also this:

"even if we wanted to do something about air pollution, we can't really"

Amazing. Of course we can. Buying low emission or zero-emission vehicles. Punishing high-emissions vehicles. Investing more in public transport capacity. Making cycling safer. Banning cars from certain areas, building new road capacity at bottlenecks (eg: not scrapping the Thames Gateway bridge) intelligent road-pricing to account for congestion, etc.

All perfectly do-able if there's a will.

Ed (CPZ) said...

Credit to you for your resilience Nick; I have no idea how you cope.

Anonymous said...

"The tiny contribution of air pollution to the 'premature deaths' of these people is so small I doubt it can be measured epidemiologically with any degree of rigour. Actually a lot of these unfortunate people will have developed heart disease and COPD because of avoidable lifestyle factors, such as smoking, that there are clinically effective treatments now available for. However even if we wanted to do something about air pollution, we can't really, and even if we could it would make little difference in terms of public health. If you want less people to die early then this is a trivial issue, of interest only to the neurotic and the politically motivated car hater."

One of the worst comments I've seen on here.

In the Great Smog of December 1952 there were 4,075 deaths in London due to short-term exposure to air pollution, with more over the following months. Back then, that was considered a health crisis. We have equivalent numbers now and yet there is no real drive to tackle it. Further, air pollution in London regularly exceeds twice the World Health Organisation (WHO) limits, and only smoking causes more early deaths than air pollution in the UK.

mk said...

"I agree, cars are now able to drive much more quickly on Wickham road, it seems strange that Lewisham council was 1 of the first councils to implement 20 mph limits yet has made it easier for cars to speed in Wickham road. The humps are so low now they may as well not be there..."

It's ridiculous. I wrote to Lewisham council about it and they said that the guidelines have changed, so they don't need to be as high anymore. Pointless. I saw someone driving full throttle up Wickham Rd last night - the bumps didn't do a thing.

Anonymous said...

"All perfectly do-able if there's a will."

And infinite resources at the state's disposal. We have to make hard choices. I think we should prioritise the greater problem instead of the lesser one.

Also you can't prove something is safe, this is so basic it's embarrassing for both of us that I have to point it out to you.

And the citing of the smog that used to occur before the clean air act by another poster, is irrelevant in this context. Showing only a lack of proportion and no knowledge of history, or indeed basic public policy and science.

Anonymous said...

"In the Great Smog of December 1952 there were 4,075 deaths in London due to short-term exposure to air pollution, with more over the following months. Back then, that was considered a health crisis. We have equivalent numbers now and yet there is no real drive to tackle it. Further, air pollution in London regularly exceeds twice the World Health Organisation (WHO) limits, and only smoking causes more early deaths than air pollution in the UK."

An extraordinary claim. You are saying that nearly 50,000 people are being killed by air pollution in London each year? That is many more than are killed by smoking. I think that Nick cites is grossly exaggerated, back of an envelope epidemiology, your claim is alarmist nonsense. Interestingly environmentalists denied the link between smoking and lung cancer for many years because they wanted to blame it on pollution. Seems old habits die hard.

Brockley Nick said...

"And infinite resources at the state's disposal."

Don't need infinite resources to do half of that stuff. eg: Road pricing pays for itself, making cycling safer and banning cars in certain cases is just a matter of public policy priority.

"We have to make hard choices."

Indeed. One of those hard choices might be inconveniencing drivers in the interests of public health. See above.

"I think we should prioritise the greater problem instead of the lesser one."

Strawman. We can do both. For example, I support pretty much every restriction on smoking and the cigarette industry short of making them illegal. We've already banned smoking from public places, stopped cigarette advertising, etc, etc. So your continued suggestion that the problem is somehow being ignored is massively disingenuous.

"Also you can't prove something is safe, this is so basic it's embarrassing for both of us that I have to point it out to you."

I didn't ask you to prove something is safe. I asked you to link to something that suggests the report I linked to is nothing more than back-of-a-fag-packet pseudo science. Let's see a peer review casting doubt on the validity of the stats, for example. It's embarrassing that I have to point out to you that evidence of assertions is useful.

Anonymous said...

"I think that Nick cites is grossly exaggerated, back of an envelope epidemiology, your claim is alarmist nonsense."

Yes, equivalent numbers dying each year from pollution-related diseases; primarily vehicle emissions.

And Nick's claim isn't "grossly exaggerated" either. It's a figure Boris himself has admitted.

"Irrelevant in this context. Showing only a lack of proportion and no knowledge of history, or indeed basic public policy and science."

Sure, keep the blinkers on.

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