More than 700 people have been killed by air pollution in south west London so far this year.
According to data from the Clean Air In Cities app, Croydon is the worst affected south west London borough with 133 air pollution related deaths.
Dr Jonathan Grigg, a leading UK academic paediatrician specialising in the effects of air pollution, explained the health complications.
He said: “Across the whole of the life course, from the developing fetus right through to childhood and then into adulthood, air pollution can have an impact on people’s health.
“In adults who are vulnerable due to a cardiovascular or respiratory condition, air pollution is significantly associated with mortality.”
According to a report by the Royal College of Physicians, outdoor air pollution can cause smaller head size at birth and lower birth weight.
For toddlers and children, exposure to air pollution can cause asthma, wheezing, coughing, slower development of lung function and other developmental problems.
In adulthood, it can cause new-onset asthma, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, heart failure, arrhythmias and strokes.
In 2013, nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah, who lived near the South Circular Road in Lewisham, died of an asthma attack linked to polluted air.
A new inquest into Ella’s death is due to start on November 30 and will examine whether the UK government failed in its duty to prevent her death after local pollution levels breached EU legal limits.
Ella’s mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, hopes the inquest will raise awareness about air pollution’s effect on young lungs.
Rosamund is now an advocate for better air quality in London.
She founded the Ella Roberta Family Foundation which raises awareness of the causes and dangers of asthma and hopes no child will ever have to suffer like Ella did.
She said: “I think people need to understand the danger of irreparable lung damage.
“There is no cure for asthma and it is a lifelong condition.
“Young children should not be put in a position where they have to live with this dreadful illness for the rest of their life.”
Experts say that to reduce the impact of air pollution on people’s health, more effective measures must be implemented to permanently reduce air pollution levels in London.
Dr Grigg stressed the need to install more electric vehicle charging stations on residential streets to encourage people to swap petrol or diesel cars for electric.
Simon Birkett, the founder of Clean Air In London and the Clean Air In Cities app, called for a renewal of the Clean Air Act, which was last updated in 1993.
He also called for a fairer congestion charge system that would bill people depending on the place, time, quantity and quality of fuels burned.
The public can take steps such as walking and cycling when they can to reduce their contribution to air pollution and protect themselves by taking routes down quieter streets when walking.
Today is Clean Air day which is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign and there are a range of virtual events happening throughout the day, which can be accessed here https://www.cleanairday.org.uk/clean-air-day-live.
Pollution levels can be checked via the London Air Quality Network website for daily forecasts and the Clean Air In Cities app gives allows users to stay up to date with the impact air pollution is having on the health of the population in their area.
Feature Image Credit: The Ella Roberta Estate