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Pollution levels in Islington are up to three times the EU limit, parents’ air testing suggests

PUBLISHED: 16:10 25 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:16 25 May 2017

Islington Greens' 'citizen science' project

Islington Greens' 'citizen science' project

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The results are in after Islington Greens and Tufnell Park Parents unleashed “citizen science” to measure air pollution levels across the borough.

Cllr Caroline Russell and Rod Gonggrijp from Tufnell Park Parents install a diffusion tubeCllr Caroline Russell and Rod Gonggrijp from Tufnell Park Parents install a diffusion tube

And according to the environmental campaigners, the latest results suggest air in the borough is worse than ever “and in clear breach of EU standards”, with one area nearly three times the EU maximum level.

Tufnell Park Parents have been conducting “citizen science” projects to monitor pollution levels since 2012. The tests involve people installing diffusion tubes in their areas to measure nitrogen dioxide (NO2) content.

At a public meeting in February, Islington Greens invited people to cast the net wider and conduct their own experiments right across the borough. In response, 100 diffusion tubes were installed in Islington, from Hillrise to Bunhill.

The legal limit for NO2 is 40ug per cubic metre. Yet out of 100 areas tested, 83 missed the “safe” target. Pentonville Road was the worst culprit, with 118 ug/m3 of NO2, which violates the law by 295 per cent.

Tufnell Park Parents after installing a diffusion tube in Tufnell Park RoadTufnell Park Parents after installing a diffusion tube in Tufnell Park Road

Camden Road, York Way, Tufnell Park Road, Holloway Road and Highbury Barn were the next worst performers respectively, ranging from 166pc over the target in Highbury Barn to 251pc along the Camden Road.

Islington Council has previously questioned the “citizen science” projects, saying their results are “limited” in scope while the town hall carries out continuous monitoring as part of its “detailed air quality strategy”.

The town hall’s director of public protection, Jan Hart, said: “We’re all affected by the quality of air we breathe and we can’t tackle air pollution alone.

“Islington was one of the first councils in the country to adopt the idling vehicle legislation and we’ve worked with schools to use volunteers as peers to challenge drivers of idling vehicles.

“We undertake our own continuous air quality monitoring, across Islington, so we know our worst areas, whereas these ‘citizen science’ results are for a limited period.

“We’ve a clear strategy for improving air quality in the borough and we’re working with other organisations, across London, to implement it.”

Frances Bradley, who helped with the parents’ air monitoring project, said: “I participated because having brought up a family in Zone 2, air pollution is an issue of great concern to me.

“I would like to grow vegetables in my garden but the fear of ingesting high levels of toxic pollutants outweighs the anticipated pleasures of fresh produce.”

Rod Gonggrijp of Tufnell Park Parents said: “We are taking matters into our own hands because they did not feel that the growing concern around air pollution was being taken seriously enough by the national government and local authorities.

“Citizen science projects such as these are leading the way in community efforts to combat air pollution but action must be taken at national and local levels.

“There was a lot of interest in the project across the area and more than 20 people, including several children, participated.”

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