Croydon sees most air pollution deaths in London

Croydon has more air pollution deaths than any other London boroughs, data from Clean Air in London shows.

The data shows the number of deaths modelled so far this year due to pollution of PM2.5 particles in the air.

Of the London boroughs, deaths are highest in Croydon and lowest in Kensington & Chelsea.

Despite the low number of deaths, pollution causes the highest percentage of deaths in Kensington & Chelsea.

Air pollution deaths in London boroughs each year as a number and percentage of all deaths.
Modelled deaths related to pollution in South-West London boroughs from data Credit: Lucy Frost

Residents, community groups and councils have taken action to raise awareness of the high pollution rates in the boroughs.

Merton Council has the introduced the highest proportion of school streets of any borough – on these roads only cyclists and pedestrians are allowed between school pick-up and drop-off times, significantly reducing the risks for children.

One such street was installed after the successful campaign of Daniela Tilbrook, a Merton personal trainer who refused to take her children into school on-time until a school street was introduced.

Tilbrook said: “I went to pick up my daughter one day and you could smell the diesel in the air.

“It just made me really upset and in the spur of the moment I told her teachers that I’d be taking my children in late until they do something about the road.”

A tweet from the start of Tilbrook’s pollution action campaigns

Tilbrook has since given up driving, taken part in Merton Council’s Citizen Science programme monitoring pollution levels in Colliers Wood, and will be taking part in the Rebellion of One in May to help raise awareness of the dangers of pollution.

“Giving up driving is liberating. For almost a year now I haven’t been stuck in traffic!” Tilbrook added.

Mums for Lungs, a grassroots group of parents campaigning for cleaner air, have staged many awareness events across London including their billboard lungs in Putney last month and current campaigns to encourage more ambitious policy from the 2021 London Mayoral election candidates.

Jemima Hartshorn, founder of Mums for Lungs, said: “Air pollution is very clearly caused by people choosing to drive and by wood burning.

“People need to understand that what they are doing has an impact on the health of other people, the environment and their own children, because inside a car is often more polluted than outside.”

Hartshorn wants to see councils increase messaging around the health risks associated with pollution, particularly in the midst of the current pandemic.

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