Air pollution

Improving our air

COVID-19 update on Air Quality

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has released information showing an improvement in air quality on the capital’s roads as a result of a huge decrease in traffic levels during lockdown. 

The lockdown enforced by the government as a result of COVID-19 has seen levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) reduce by half than before lockdown. You can find more information on that here.

Kingston is on par with this, having seen a 47% decrease in NO2 between the control period and lockdown, again largely due to the major fall in traffic, with Cromwell Road specifically falling by 57%.

However, it is important for Kingston residents to keep following guidelines as there are still risks to air quality posed.

The levels of PM10 - particulate matter used in measuring air pollution - are still high in some place in Kingston due to the following reasons:

  • Emissions from agriculture (the spreading of fertilisers), 

  • Winds from the east are common at this time of year, blowing particles across from Europe and resulting in levels of pollution being higher in spring than at other times of the year.

  • The recent spell of good weather means dust deposits have not been not washed away by the rain - although this will have improved due to the unsettled weather of the last few days.

  • Bonfires. While they are not strictly banned by the Government, they do let off large amounts of particulate matter, as well as posing a risk to people with underlying health risks such as asthma, as well as potentially making it harder for people who have COVID-19 to recover, so we are advising residents to not have garden bonfires at all during this period. More information on bonfire guidance is available here.

Clean air is essential for a good quality of life and in Kingston, we are working hard to reduce air pollution for everyone. Air pollution is the biggest environmental cause of ill-health in the UK contributing to 1 in 20 deaths from strokes, heart disease, chest infections and cancer.

Report air pollution to us

The council is working on various initiatives to help improve the air in our borough. These include: 

  • ongoing Air Quality monitoring - you can see the live data on the London Air Quality Network website
  • encouraging residents to walk, cycle or use public transport where possible 
  • installing electric vehicle charging points across the borough, including rapid charge points, on street charging points in town centres and 50 lamp post charging points in residential areas.
  • providing 26km of segregated cycle lanes across the borough through the Go Cycle programme, with 12km installed since 2016 and the scheme due to complete by 2021
  • bringing dockless cycle hire and e-bikes to the borough to make cycling more accessible
  • working with schools to promote sustainable methods to travel to and from school, and trialling ‘School Streets’, where roads are closed to traffic at the start and end of the school day
  • planting 2,000 extra trees in parks and streets by 2022, with over 500 planted in the last year
  • educating drivers on the harm caused by engine idling, introducing campaigns to reduce engine idling at hotspots such as outside schools and by bus stops.