High Road is London’s second most-polluted but Redbridge air quality monitoring ‘could stop’

Local pollution monitoring stations in Redbridge could be removed in a government shake-up despite the High Road through the borough being named as London’s second most polluted road.

Nearly 20,000 vehicles pass along the A118 through Ilford, Seven Kings, Goodmayes and Chadwell Heath a day, pumping out exhaust fumes, according to a London Assembly report.

Huge quantities of nitrogen dioxide were recorded, which can be toxic, along with carcinogenic benzene and particulates, which can cause asthma and other respiratory diseases after being inhaled.

Chapel Road, in Ilford, the A12 Eastern Avenue, Cambridge Park Road, in Wanstead, and Cranbrook Road also had high levels of pollutants.

Redbridge Council currently monitors air pollution from two stations in Wanstead and Ilford but under new plans by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the obligation to check local hotspots could be taken away.

Two monitoring stations by the Fullwell Cross roundabout, in Barkingside, and by the A406 in South Woodford are already out of use.

The government has outlined several options aiming to meet EU air quality standards, simplify the role for councils and “cut red tape” in an ongoing consultation.

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Under the preferred option, Redbridge Council would only have to improve air quality if it was below EU standards, rather than monitoring areas.

A DEFRA report said known local pollution hotspots currently monitored by councils may be “overlooked” by the new national assessment and “lead to some local health impacts”.

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.

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

The Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party has spoken out against the proposed changes.

Member Rosemary Warrington said: “At a time when air pollution is one of the largest and most widespread of the country’s public health problems, it seems insane to be removing the power from local authorities to measure it scientifically.”

The consultation will close on September 13.

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