Roadside nitrogen dioxide in Islington fell to legal levels and remained there even after the coronavirus lockdowns, according to a new report.

Coinciding with World Car Free Day on Thursday, Islington Council published its annual air quality report.

Nitrogen dioxide levels in 2021 - the most recent data available - measured below the legal limit of 40µg/m3 at all of the borough’s urban background and roadside monitoring sites for a second time.

The first time was in 2020, when figures were likely to have been impacted by Covid-19 lockdowns.

The last two years have seen the council introduce seven low-traffic neighbourhoods and 35 School Streets, the latest of which went live outside Highbury Quadrant Primary School on Monday.

Having introduced a package of environmental improvements at two primary schools on main roads, the council has started engaging with people on introducing similar improvements at Montem Primary School, Samuel Rhodes Primary School, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, and Robert Blair Primary School.

The annual air quality report includes data from 72 monitoring sites outside schools, with air pollution averaging at 22μg/m3 in 2021. This is an improvement from the 31μg/m3 measurement in 2019, the year before the council's School Streets programme was significantly accelerated.

Air quality improved in each of Islington’s low-traffic neighbourhoods and on surrounding boundary roads between 2019, the year before they were introduced, and 2021.

Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington’s executive member for environment, air quality, and transport, said: “We are very pleased that Islington’s air quality continues to improve and that action taken here and across London to cut air pollution is paying dividends, with huge benefits to the health and wellbeing of local people.

“The improvements we’ve seen to air quality right across Islington are hugely encouraging. But, with air pollution still causing thousands of premature deaths in the capital every year, further efforts to cut the main sources of emissions remain an urgent priority.

“As we work to clean up our air and tackle the climate emergency, World Car Free Day is a fantastic opportunity to reimagine our city streets as a place for people and nature. We’ll continue to take the bold steps needed to make it easier to walk, wheel and cycle around our borough, while improving the quality of the air we all breathe.”