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Islington Greens call for ‘citizen science’ to deal with ‘chilling’ air pollution

PUBLISHED: 15:36 23 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:23 26 May 2017

Volunteers pledge to Cllr Caroline Russell to install diffusion tubes around Islington to monitor pollution. Picture: James Morris

Volunteers pledge to Cllr Caroline Russell to install diffusion tubes around Islington to monitor pollution. Picture: James Morris

Archant

Impact of air pollution in Islington? “Difficulty exercising.” “Soot getting in one’s nose.”

Causes? “Internet deliveries.” “Arsenal matchdays.”

Solutions? “Shop locally.” “Get children to school on ‘walking buses’.”

It could only be an Islington Green Party public meeting.

About 40 people packed into a town hall committee room last night to debate an issue which Cllr Caroline Russell – Islington’s sole opposition councillor in the Labour-controlled authority – said will lead to “utterly debilitating” health problems for some people.

The Greens are calling on the council to reduce car traffic in the borough. They claim, from their own “citizen science” measurements, that pollution is getting worse.

Their most recent measurements, using diffusion tubes, were taken in Tufnell Park Road throughout November. They claim the bus stop outside the Odeon cinema had average nitrogen dioxide readings of 54.93 micrograms per cubic metre. The EU legal limit is 40. And compared with November 2013 in exactly the same spot, it had risen from 41.47.

Twenty volunteers at the meeting offered to install diffusion tubes in their part of Islington, with Cllr Russell writing each street name on a flip chart. The party aims to gather evidence about pollution issues across the borough.

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

But Ian Hunt, of Tufnell Park, wants to take action himself. Asked why he attended the meeting, he told the Gazette: “There are areas that I would like to go to that I avoid due to pollution. I would go to Holloway Road if I felt it was a nice place to breathe air – but it’s not.

“I think life goes from the places that should have life in them. Islington may not be the absolute worst in London but it’s easy enough to see how much of a serious issue this is.”

Susan Davenport, of Highbury, added: “I have seen the pollution levels and you don’t want to be worrying about the air you breathe. It’s actually quite chilling, knowing you can’t see it.

“It’s hard to tell, but how much difference can we seriously make? Is the wider public going to be as active as those who have come to this meeting? But something has to be done.”

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