More than two million Londoners live in areas with illegally toxic air


Today marks the launch of a major new citizen funded initiative by the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) to tackle inaction on air pollution: will, for the first time, uncover pollution levels by address using a system similar to the EPC energy ratings for homes. The free report generated with a click gives the annual average levels of air pollution at an address and the damage long term exposure can do to human health. It also makes it clear if the property exceeds the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual legal limit for clean air.

The rating system uses data from King’s College London, giving levels of nitrogen dioxide accurate to 20sqm.

A new report unveiled by COPI today shows that average house prices across the city could plummet. Chelsea house prices could be crunched by £256,416, in Tower Hamlets by £66,419 and in Islington by £146,359. The price plummet estimates follow findings that show a resounding 76% of Londoners believe that discounts should apply to properties available to rent or buy in areas that breach legal limits for air pollution and are likely to have a negative impact on occupants’ health.

According to the World Health Organization, there is no healthy level of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) , but anything above 40 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) breaches the legal limit of NO2 – making it illegal. This would fall under a ‘Significant’ rating on, and be shown to lead to an 11% increased risk of disease related mortality. London neighbourhoods that rank at this level include The Mall, Notting Hill as well as Regents Park home to famous names including the royal family, David Beckham and Daniel Craig.

Areas with air pollution above 80µg/m3, which leads to a 33% increased risk in disease related mortality, include wealthy neighbourhoods such as Chelsea, Westminster and newly gentrified areas like London Fields. COPI is targeting these areas with billboards that have messages like ‘Location, Location, Lung Disease’ and ‘These houses cost an arm, leg and lung’.

Humphrey Milles, founder of the Central Office for Public Interest, said: “Air pollution is killing people across the country, and London is worst hit – but people don’t believe it will affect them personally. The Air Quality Rating is a tool to change these perceptions and show just how real, and dangerous, air pollution is across the capital, including in some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods.

“I urge every Londoner to check the Air Quality Rating for their address, get informed and take action. Sign the petition and demand immediate action from your council and local MP.”

Every estate agent across London will be contacted this week and encouraged to adopt the new system. With the air quality and associated health costs for every address in London now readily available, a strong legal argument exists to say this information must be disclosed to prospective buyers.

While most (94%) of the Londoners surveyed claim to be aware of the risks of exposure to air pollution, just 12% said that air pollution levels would be a high deciding factor on a home purchase. But if they were informed that the level of toxicity breached the WHO’s legal limit for air pollution, which many addresses do, 58% said they would withdraw an offer completely and a further third (36%) would continue but demand a discount.