There are particularly large decreases in Sulphur Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide - the former due to reduced sulphur in fuel, and the latter due to catalytic converters. But pretty much all the other metrics have continued to improve too. Having worked in Bloomsbury for 30 years, I can definitely tell it's got better.
But it's not good enough. When City Hall is hailing that air quality is actually legal for the first time in ten years, that's both good and comical at the same time.
As an aside, I moved from London to the Bay Area for a number of years. Many of the Londoners I knew who moved there developed terrible allergies after a few years. Certainly I have less problem with allergies in London than I had in Berkeley. This should in no way excuse London, but you have to get things in perspective.
A good HEPA filter will take care of that. As a bonus, if you're allergic, you'll get rid of most of the pollen that way.
If you reduce your exposure to lead by 50% annually and you're still well above the safe exposure limit, you might be making progress and still not having positive impacts on health.
If you're above the acceptable limit, and you don't reduce exposure to below that limit, then there's no benefit.
That's not what the data you linked show, though.
You charted Sulphur Dioxide only, but when you look at say PM2.5, there's not even data for the whole period (09/1993-09/2019):
>>Warning: Valid PM2.5 Particulate measurements are available for only 37% of the requested period.
This means they've got data on <10 years, out of the 26 years in the period.
At least for some pollutants that are widely studied and linked to mortality and negative health outcomes - such as PM2.5, PM10, NO2, there does not seem to be an "improvement", based on these data:
I think that any move to an area with a sufficiently different mix of pollen can cause problems for your immune system.
I suspect simply because there isn't as much nature in the vicinity, which I don't actually appreciate. Oh well.
You need to convert units, because the US readings are given on the AQI scale, whereas the London ones are raw measurements:
But not the same yeast everywhere. Plus bacteria are also a factor, and also vary place to place. Some may cause worse allergies than others, depending on the person.
As far as I know, French bakers didn't bring the yeast (or starter) responsible for sourdough. They just brought french bread. The sourdough part happened naturally, at least initially. Now it's actively encouraged.
But even with the right starter, the further east you go, the harder good sourdough is to make.
This is common among people that move from one region to any other region.
I'm allergic to grass but not tree pollen or mold spores.
But no actual facts about the claimed crisis. Not a single statistic about how people are affected. No documentation of the existence of a crisis, much less documentation of the claim that said crisis is caused by diesel in particular (rather than just air pollution in general).
Would be nice if the author had spent some time finding some facts instead of making everyone dumber with a sensational headline without a factual basis.
Health effects of diesel Particulate Matter: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1440-1843...
In the Netherlands, more electric cars were registered this year than diesel cars.
This is actually a side effect of the Dutch government reducing business ownership subsidies (bijtelling reduction) next year, but it's still a positive effect, and very welcome in car congested Netherlands where many people live quite close to major roads.
Can't say I've noticed because I try to drive our diesel as little as possible. The difference in road tax between diesel and benzine is pretty large though. I can't wait to get rid of our diesel car.
For example, the daily average pollution levels across all particulates being tracked in my city (PM 2.5/10, CO, SO2, NOx, and some others) have been several times that of the highest levels on the dirtiest day in London's history for the last 10 years.
If we compare, say, our daily averages taken on the dirtiest ~1/3 days in a year to the most polluted day in London's recent history, the ratio goes to something like 10-200x, depending on pollutant.
You'll never see it mentioned in big news outlets though. Who would give a damn? It's certainly not London.
People do give a damn. Unfortunately governments around the world aren't often leaping to take effective action. It's the same with environmental issues in general.
Beijing is a health resort compared to where I am located. At least my friend claims so (he spent about 3 months there on a business trip back in 2011.)
I know of at least 3 cities in my country suffering from extreme air pollution. You won't find any news articles about any of them.
I plan to take a lot of pictures during the upcoming winter, because almost no one on the English-speaking segment of internet believes that there can be so much pollution in the air, that it reduces visibility to 10 meters.
It's all because of the old Soviet heavy industry which hasn't been properly maintained since 1991 (say what you want about USSR, but there was more responsibility then), crappy gasoline, lots of old cars which made their first 100k miles in Germany or US, high sulfur coal being used in stoves... the whole shebang.
Did I mention that some people use cow dung/rubber/plastic rubbish in their stoves?
Yep, we're living on the same planet as you are.
This is a widespread issue. We are heavily dependent on the Government on almost every issue, and people seem to want to be more dependent on them. But the question is, what can we do about it that would be effective when we are getting pressure from all fronts because of misplaced power, and financial incentives?
But the real problem is London's narrow, busy streets with heavy motor vehicle traffic in very close proximity to where Londoners live, work, walk, go to school, etc. Anyone who spends much time in Central London is spending a significant portion of their lives in close proximity to the exhaust fumes from thousands of vehicles daily, so exposure to toxic pollutants in London is much worse than many measures of average air quality suggest!
On the bright side, there has been a noticeable improvement recently thanks to initiatives like the Central London ultra-low emission (ULEZ) zone, and the increasing numbers of electric taxis replacing the old diesel ones. One major area that still needs improvement is the buses - there are now some electric buses, but still far too many old, polluting diesel ones.
Those parts are usually in the same economic stage that London was when it had a similar air quality.
When a society crawls its way out of crushing poverty, there are more important things to use the new resources for than air quality. Once those are taken care of, all known societies have fixed the air situation.
More than a bit hyped, there is a lot of Europe outside London (and outside other European major cities).
I understand that putting a face on a news story makes it more meaningful. But it just screams anecdotal evidence to me.
Who cares what "one American" did?? Is the air in London bad? Then report it. And don't try to prove it by saying one person has moved.
Also, pollution is most definitely a first world problem, not third world like the writer somehow believed.
My lungs have certainly become a lot more sensitive these days.
Pollution is something that becomes part of your day to day life, you just don't notice it.
I tried cycling with a FFP3 dust mask recently and it was shocking to me how much better it felt.
NO2 output is higher for a modern diesel engine, and NO2 is poisonous. Not like "Oh my god I think I breathed some NO2 now I need to go to hospital" poisonous, but it's bad for you and wasn't there anyway. If Europe had decided it hated diesel and petrol remained more popular (as in the US) there'd be lower NO2 emissions in London.
PM2.5 (tiny particles) is higher for diesel. Again, breathing in a tiny particle that will then permanently get stuck in your lungs, damaging them in a minute but essentially irreversible way, is not going to send you to ER immediately, but it keeps happening and cumulatively, especially over a population, that means deaths.
As the article also points out PM2.5 doesn't even go away if you got rid of internal combustion engines. Just rolling at speed causes tiny pieces of the surfaces that come into contact to break off, probably a racist cyclist even emits PM2.5 though nothing like a diesel truck. So this isn't a problem we can entirely solve, but things like ULEZ aim to make it better, the argument is largely that they aren't enough (and apparently for this journalist, won't ever be enough).
Oh man i hate those racist cyclists :P
So yes, whether racist or not, and indeed even if using some less conventional wheeled transport like a skateboard or shopping trolley - all fast wheeled travel creates PM2.5 pollution and we just have to suck it up. I presume maglev doesn't do this, but maglev isn't exactly at the top of the list of cheap inner city transit options.
Catalytic converter a pull most of the NOx out of a gasoline engine's exhaust, but don't work on diesels. Urea traps are an alternative, but an expensive one.
Moden SCR systems (they inject DEF, aka, urea, into the exhaust) do a really good job getting rid of NOx.
Diesel engines are more efficient at using the energy in the fuel and as a result produce less CO2.
However, diesel engines generally produce more NO2 and particulate emissions which causes local pollution. There are technologies which mitigate these pollutants for diesel engines (such as urea injection and exhaust gas recirculation) which are required in the US, but I believe there is less stringent requirements for them in Europe.
One cheating diesel car in 1000 cars increases ozone, PM2.5 pollution by 1.33%, 1.99% respectively.
Each additional cheating diesel car in 1000 decreases child birth weight by 0.19%, causes low child birth weight 1.9% more often and causes 8% more visits per quarter per 1,000 children of age 0 to 4 to doctors because of asthma.
So yes, comparable American cities would be healthier. Having less taxes on diesel was a huge mistake in Europe. My guess is it was an attempt to burden transportation industry less with taxes. Plus lorries can do tax arbitration by filling up outside of countries with high diesel tax (so you wouldn't want too high of a diesel tax because of the "laffer curve"). This caused this whole innovation of having consumer diesel cars, even though they are more expensive, complicated and heavy. If you take into account weight and production cost it becomes difficult to justify a diesel engine via CO2/fuel savings outside of tax advantages (this doesn't apply to lorries).
So the intent at least originally was to discourage the plebs from buying diesel cars, whereas those that used a lot like trucks, taxis etc. got cheaper fuel (for them the fixed yearly tax was a trivial cost compared to the advantage of cheaper fuel and a more efficient engine).
I agree this is a mistake that should be rectified, but it is of course politically very difficult.
Its not the ignition (if I ran a diesel engine with CH4 I'd get no particulate emissions), or even the type of fuel (if I burn diesel in an appropriate furnace I can eliminate most soot).
It's burning diesel in a diesel engine that's the problem.
Diesel is thick and has a low vapor pressure. When it is injected, therefore, it is more akin to tiny droplets of fuel whose surface burns. Eventually there is -locally- no air around the droplet and the droplet pyrolizes and becomes a particle of soot.
Ironically, diesel engines run very lean (excess O2). But in the neighborhood around the droplet, without good mixing, you get low concentrations of O2.
Gasoline has a low vapor pressure, so it is essentially a gas, not a droplet in the combustion chamber. Therefore there is a flame front across a fairly homogeneous mixtures of gases and there isn't a local lack of O2 (assuming the air ratio is right).
For a gasoline engine this breaks down in two scenarios: Cold engines and direct fuel injection:
- In a cold engine the T might not be high enough to vaporize the fuel and the engine won't start. Therefore more fuel is used and it is in the form of droplets. This is what the choke is for in carburated engines, and now the computer does the same.
- In a direct injection engine there might not be enough time to vaporize the fuel. High P are used (and to shove the fuel into a high P chamber) to encourage vaporization. But its not as effective as port injection.
Direct fuel injection, however, allows for leaner fuel mixtures and more control of the burn (higher compression ratio) so it's basically necessary to achieve efficiency standards.
Another feature/problem of diesel is their high compression ratio. This is how the diesel cycle is more efficient than the Otto cycle (otherwise, the Otto cycle - all else being equal - is more efficient). However, high compression ratios imply high NOx emissions (NOx is an endothermic reaction that lowers P -> high T and high P favor its formation).
So you can see that environmental goals in ICE work against each other. Lowering CO2, or rising fuel efficiency, means rising NOx or soot emissions (or finding a way to shift the curve). You need a transformative technology to improve NOx, soot and CO2 (like fuel injection in the 80s).
In F1, there are no emission rules engines don't have to last 300 000 km but there is a very strict efficiency rule. Here Mercedes claims to have achieved 50% thermal efficiency, which is insane for a small ICE running at 10k rpm and producing 500hp/L. A typical gasoline car gets at best 25~30% in its most efficient state.
Look at, say, WWII airplane engines. They had 4 sodium cooled valves per cylinders, overhead camshafts, power density around 50 kW/L, pretty darn good bsfc, all this decades before anything like that appeared in civilian cars.
When I used to cycle in London I noticed that I struggled to recover at traffic lights. On one occasion I thought "this is it" because I simply could not catch my breath whilst my HR spiked. Most unpleasant.
None of this was new. "Diesel exhausts, long known for their characteristic smells".
Mrs T had a background in chemistry
 - https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/top-10-smoggiest-cities-in-...
Meanwhile I'm on my bike, breathing all the fumes with no protection whatsoever.
 https://cleargrass.com/air_monitor/overview (Website in Chinese only, unfortunately. The device can be set to english though.)
At risk of sounding like a commercial, you should get a Levoit HEPA purifier. It'll clear that right up.
I just meant it'd clean your air. ;)
Yes, they're a big polluter, but they're also moving a LOT of people around the city, so that sort of cancels out. If anything the taxi drivers remain annoyed that this means they're going to be buying a (very expensive even after grants) new taxi sooner than expected.
The Mayor spent about £25M basically bribing those in younger taxis to upgrade to ZEV anyway, paying them over £10 000 each in some cases to swap from an old diesel (which would then either be scrapped or sold outside London since it can't hit criteria to be newly licensed as a London taxi now) to a PHEV.
How does that cancel out? It seems that it is a force multiplier.
I'd really like to see that happen in the West, but there are some rather idiotic people around who thinks the sound - like grinding metal with a chainsaw - is part of the fun.
Same for light commercial vehicles, and even worse - at 11.7 years average - for mid and heavy commercial vehicles.
See page 9, 10 & 11 here:
London's air is far, far cleaner than many other cities around the World. I was in Paris last weekend, and I think that's more polluted because congestion seems much worse in a much larger area than it does in London.
That does not mean it is clean or safe, however, there are challenges:
As the article points out, for many years the government pushed diesel, so there are a lot of cars out there. They have advantages that make them attractive to a lot of people (myself included), so if they're ULEZ compliant, we'll buy them in part because the turnaround has made them cheaper on the second hand market. Fleets of German cars are being bought, depreciated and sold at knock-down prices.
Go to the biggest 2nd hand dealer in London (Cargiant), go to the Merc and BMW hangar, and find me a petrol car: you'll be hard pushed, and when you do find them, they're more expensive.
Electric is also not a viable option for the vast majority of Londoners. Where I live (TW1), we're way outside central London, in Zone 4. Even here, off-road parking is very much a rarity and exception.
The local council (Richmond) has thrown money at lampost charging stations, and is installing around 250 of them across the borough. A borough of 195k people are going to share 250 charging points. This is absurdly low.
What about public transport? It's true, London is one of the best public transport cities in the World. I use the bus frequnetly, often to get to my nearest tube (a 45 minute walk away), or use the train.
However, it's also expensive, and for most people driving - even with the ULEZ and congestion charges - can make more financial sense.
It's interesting as well that the article calls out Marylebone Road and Hyde Park corner as the most polluted spots.
Marylebone road is party to 4 major train stations: Marylebone, Euston, Kings Cross and St Pancras International. Almost anybody trying to make a train journey to the North of London or to avoid using a plane to get to Europe is going to travel along Marylebone road. It's taking one for the team: those taxis and cars are normally carrying people to get to those stations.
They're well served by public transport, but heavy bags and suitcases on the London transport system is fractured: it prompts us to use cars instead. I did this myself just this weekend when getting to and from St Pancras for the Eurostar, because the alternatives were utterly draining.
And as for Hyde Park corner, well it's a central crossing point for many routes out to the South, West and North of London and its centre. The alternative would be to build ring roads that were once planned, but would turn London into a motorway-centric city like Birmingham, which would just encourage more driving.
Diesels need to get more expensive to own, electric needs to get easier to own for those of us without driveways, public transport needs to get cheaper, and the concentration of rail terminuses into a mile long stretch of road needs rethinking long term (it's going to get worse with HS2).
But at the same time, we have it way better than many other cities.
Usually, winds carry that smoke into Idaho, but due to abnormal weather patterns, all that smoke was carried into Seattle and Vancouver.
Edit: it’s also possible to buy a non-diesel car. New petrol cars are actually cheaper than diesel. There are plenty of EVs available on the market. Heck, even hydrogen, if one really wants to.
Also, doing low mileage in a modern diesel can cause issues because it doesn't get the opertunity to run the cycle that will burn the crap out of the particulate filter.
My Dad does about 20,000 miles a year for work.
Edit: a quick look at mobile.de will show you diesel is cheaper than petrol.
What do you mean “as long as they are built in Europe”. Are Teslas built in Europe? No.
The air in London from my own experience is not great but it's also not much worse than in many other large cities, and it has definitely improved a lot over the last decade or two.
Other European cities at least in my experience are completely fine. I've not noticed anything that sets Berlin or Stockholm apart from American cities, definitely not to the point that'd be a reason for me to move.
Of course, much of the fleet in London will be older. It was shocking to me to see (in the article) how diesel vehicles had gone from 1.x million in the 90s to 12+million today.
Even bigger pity that electric didn't win in the 1910s.
Pollution deaths would've been sky high if electric cars "won" in 1910.
Of course, the petrol version will make quite a bit more power as well. When you look at CO2 per HP, the differences are negligible.
We've had to ask you many times not to do this. Eventually we will ban you for it, so please just refrain, regardless of how right you are about diesel.
And guess what, when I actually answered I was downvoted for that too.
Just asserting it doesn't advance the conversation, and copping an attitude about something so meaningless as karma points is ridiculous.
Blaming diesel for a public health crisis is like blaming the sun for melanomas or the wind for wrecked ships.
Yes using diesel has consequences just as fossil fuels does but the upside of them far outweighs the downside and not using it would be far worse.
Things can have both positive and negative properties. Diesel is no exception and has certainly saved more people than it killed.
Diesel is ... cheap that's about it. Everything else about it, is a negative.
I already gave you just some of the positive effects of using Diesel luckily everyone can read for themselves.
That's all on this subject.
Putting diesel in the category of 'sun' or 'wind' is pretty clear I think.
The point is that it's absurd to only look at the negatives. Just like you wouldn't only be judging wind or the sun on negatives you can't only look at the negatives only of diesel you have to look at the positives and THEN decide whether it's worth it.
Why would using petrol be "far worse"?
Oh the irony. This tones sounds like FUD quite a lot.
The overall mortality rate in US is much higher.
"On September 5 , ash from the Central Washington fires fell "like snow" on Seattle and as far west as Grays Harbor County which borders the Pacific Ocean. University of Washington meteorology professor Cliff Mass said the situation in Seattle with "a smoke cloud so dense one would think it is low stratus deck" was unprecedented in his 30 years of experience."
I was in Oregon for the eclipse in 2017 and the air quality was really terrible.
- gasoline direct injection engines produce much more harmful particulate matter than current diesel engines (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_direct_injection#Emis...), plus some carcinogenic gases like benzoapyrene.
- a lot of the particulate matter emitted by cars comes from brake and tire wear, which even electric cars have (https://www.greencarcongress.com/2016/04/20160418-pm10.html).
So blaming it all on Diesel engines is a bit short-sighted...
One other point also is that tyre particulate emissions vary hugely according to composition and manufacture. So we will need both a switch to electric and proper regulation of tyres, then we’ll really be getting somewhere.
The paper about brake and tire wear you cited receive a Corrigendum about false attribution and conflict of interest because the author works in a motor tech:
The authors regret that as Victor Timmers did not carry out the research under the auspices of the University of Edinburgh, nor in collaboration or consultation with any personnel at the University of Edinburgh, the affiliation of “University of Edinburgh” has now been removed from this work at the request of the Institution. In addition, subsequent to the publication of the Paper, Victor Timmers has disclosed a potential Conflict of Interest with regard to the work, namely: “non-financial support from Innas B.V, during the conduct of the study”.
The authors would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.
I carried it around with me for a few days in London, commuting in by train from the suburbs. There were two places that had the highest particulate levels. The first was in my kitchen when I was cooking (no comment!), and the second was on the London Underground. Particulates were far higher on the tube than on the street in central London. So high I would have thought it was a serious health risk for tube drivers. Presumably this mostly comes from the steel wheels on steel track. I don't know whether ingesting steel particulates is more or less healthy than other particulates though. Has anyone done any studies into whether tube drivers have higher rates of health problems than overground drivers?
Edit: table 1 of this paper confirms that the particulates on the underground are mostly iron: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/...
Highly unlikely. Steel-on-steel is used because it lasts for YEARS without needing replacing due to wear.