A406 through South Woodford ‘one of most polluted places in UK’

Traffic on the A406.

Traffic on the A406. - Credit: Archant

The A406 through South Woodford is one of the most polluted places in the entire country, new figures reveal.

Government readings show that levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide on the north circular near Charlie Brown’s Roundabout are almost four times the legal limit.

The 800m stretch of road had the 24th highest reading in the UK, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Only central London had higher amounts of nitrogen dioxide.

The director of public health for Redbridge and Waltham Forest, Vicky Hobart, said air pollution can lead to illness, admission to hospital, and even premature death in the worst cases.

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She added: “For the majority of the population the effects of air pollution are not usually immediately obvious, although some individuals may notice symptoms such as irritation to eyes or throats when pollution levels are elevated.

“However, some people are more vulnerable to the effects, as exposure can exacerbate existing health conditions including cardiovascular and respiratory disease and asthma.”

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While the congestion charge and low emission zones are bringing pollution down in central London, outer boroughs like Redbridge are still reliant on cars.

Redbridge Council was given £100,000 by the Mayor of London last year to improve air quality.

Transport for London is responsible for the A406 but the council controls other congested roads, including the High Road and Eastern Avenue, which also have pollution problems.

Projects including “green walls” to absorb toxic gases, screens and tree planting to combat the problem.

The money, to be spent over the next three years, will also go towards education campaigns showing residents what they can do to reduce emissions as well as exposure to harmful pollutants.

The readings from 2012 showed there were 109 micrograms per cubic metre of air along the A406 in South Woodford, compared to the EU limit of 40 micrograms.

The European Commission has launched landmark legal proceedings against the UK for failing to combat “excessive” air pollution.

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