Green Party Pollution Testing Shows Illegal Levels of Nitrogen Dioxide Across the Borough and Outside Twenty Two Islington Schools

22 March 2016

Results from roadside nitrogen dioxide testing carried out by Islington Green Party show that nearly everywhere Islington’s air is exceeding EU limits for air quality. All but one of the results exceeded EU legal limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with five locations coming in at more than 50% over the legal threshold.

Thirty air pollution measuring devices were put up for a month on roadsides across the borough, most of which were placed outside Islington’s schools and colleges.

Only one location came in under the legal limit of NO2 which stands at 40 micrograms per cubic metre (mg/m3); and that was only by 7%. The full results were:

 Nitrogen Dioxide Roadside Testing Results

The equipment measured the NO2 in the air which is linked to a range of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses that are particularly harmful to children, older people and those with existing health conditions such as asthma and heart and lung disease. Road vehicle emissions, and particularly diesel engines, are major contributors to NO2 in the air. 

Four weeks after being put up, the devices were sent to an independent laboratory for testing.

Cllr Caroline Russell puts up a nitrogen dioxide testing tube

Cllr Caroline Russell, who is also a Green Party London-wide candidate for the London Assembly, said: "The results, just back, are shocking and very worrying. Almost all school locations tested were exposed to illegal air some almost twice the legal limit. Even the one school that scraped in under the legal limit is exposed to health damaging pollution. It's not surprising that 71% of parents polled by the Evening Standard recently cited air pollution as their top health concern." 

“The council must prioritise cleaning our air, reducing car use and making sure it's safe and convenient to walk, cycle and use public transport. 

“The Green Party has been pushing them to do just that but they have chosen not to do some simple things such as increasing pay-and-display parking charges by 3.99% (about 12p each time you park) to pay for officers to enforce their own vehicle engine idling policy. I was shocked to learn recently that no staff are currently allocated to advising drivers about the no-idling policy and not a single fine has been handed out to drivers who leave their engine running whilst parked since the scheme began in 2014. The parking warden contract could easily include advising drivers to switch off engines while parked. Turning off stationary engines is a simple and practical thing that can make a real difference, especially outside schools. 

Daniel Key, Islington Green Party Campaign Co-ordinator, said: "Islington Council and the new Mayor in City Hall should be acting to remove diesel from our city and provide a clean air transport system that cuts our exposure to the most polluting emissions. 

“In the meantime, citizen science projects to measure air pollution are a great way to build understanding about the state of our polluted air. We hope that by building networks of residents testing our air we can help people take action to avoid exposure to pollution by using less polluted roads and even to leave the car at home to avoid causing pollution in the first place." 

Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, said: “These results unfortunately confirm what we already knew, that London’s air is heavily polluted and harmful to us all. Many roads in London have levels of nitrogen dioxide that are amongst the highest in the world – far above legal limits and World Health Organisation guidelines. We want a new Clean Air Revolution in 2016 that bans diesel from the most polluted places exactly 60 years after coal burning was banned so successfully.” 


1. Thirty NO2 diffusion tubes were placed on roadsides across the borough. One was removed and 29 were sent for analysis. 

2. Under EU rules, the legal limit for NO2 is 40 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre of air. 

3. A report from King’s College London on behalf of Transport for London and the Greater London Authority last July showed that up to 250 deaths can be attributed to air pollution in Islington every year. Heather Walton, David Dajnak, Sean Beevers, Martin Williams, Paul Watkiss and Alistair Hunt. (2015). Understanding the Health Impacts of Air Pollution in London. Available: Last accessed 21st March 2016. 

4. A survey by The Evening Standard found that London’s parents see toxic air as 'the biggest health threat to their children'.

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