December 18, 2020

A Coroner’s Report in London, Asthma, Zoning & Road Pricing

Asthma is a lung disease where the airways of the lungs are swollen and inflamed, making it harder to breathe. When Stockholm introduced its congestion tax to discourage driving in the downtown, pollution levels dropped by 5 to 10 percent and asthma attacks experienced by local children decreased by nearly 50 percent.

The new  emission zone in London limits air pollution in the central city by 50 percent. Introduced in April 2019, ULEZ (which stands for Ultra-Low Emission Zone ) plans to reduce the 36,000 deaths caused in the UK every year by outdoor pollution.”

London hopes its example will be followed by other cities in the United Kingdom.  London’s emissions zones work provide a road map as road  pricing is being discussed for potential implementation in Metro Vancouver. Given the constraints of the region because of water, mountains and location it makes sense to look at any congestion pricing at a regional level, especially when pollutant impacts go to other communities with prevailing winds.

 The World Health Organization has identified outdoor air pollution as causing over 4.2 million premature deaths in low, middle and high income countries around the world. A recent Lancet reported study found that London’s low emission zone adopted in 2008 had improved air quality with lowering NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) levels,  but that children were still exposed to particulates.

For the first time one of the victims of air pollution in Britain has been named. As Elian Peltier writes in the New York Times, nine year old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, lived near the  major South Circular Road in southeast London.She died in 2013 after many asthma attacks and seizures requiring hospitalization. Law and environmental experts linked her death in a coroner’s report  to air pollution, setting a precedent.  The levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter that Ella was exposed to were beyond the World Health Organization guidelines.

Sadly her mother said that had she known about the deleterious impact of pollution on her daughter’s health she would have moved. Children who are growing are particularly susceptible to  “disease or dysfunctional growth”.

Here is the paradox~”pollution disproportionately affects minorities and deprived families”

Those are the people living in mid and high rise buildings along major arteries. We planned neighbourhoods that way, not allowing mid rise buildings with families to be embedded IN  neighbourhoods, by parks, community centres and schools, but locating them along the arterials.

It is clear that “air pollution is driving health inequalities” and that also should be informing us to pollute less, and site higher density buildings with families and children away from major streets, fronting recreation areas, parks and schools.

I have written about nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter and how toxic this is to children.

There is some good news~ Mayor Sadiq Khan’s office “stated that the number of Londoners living in areas exceeding the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide had fallen from over two million in 2016 to 119,000 in 2019.”

This  very sad legal precedent in this girl’s death  opens up the demand  for complying with pollution reduction and ensuring the safety of children in cities and areas close to pollution sources~traffic and industry.

Rose Grogan an environmental lawyer stated “Today’s ruling comes in the long running context of Britain being in breach of European directives on air pollution. The findings per se aren’t legally binding, yet that conclusion could likely pave the way for claims to be brought against the government in civil jurisdictions.”

You can find out more about this case and see video footage of  London’s Circular Road in the CBC YouTube video below.


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  1. Indeed THE major beneficiary of electrification of cars, trucks and buses in urban areas is AIR QUALITY, and not, like many advocate “the climate” ie the alleged drop in temperature in 100 years.

    A secondary benefit is NOISE REDUCTION and unfortunately far too little is written about that. Perhaps pricetags can?

    btw: We just put in an order for a plug-in hybrid car – massive wait list deep into 2021. Key reason: shortage of supply and huge demand esp in BC and Quebec. You get a $6500 fed + BC rebate, and in Quebec it is $13,000 ($8000 plus $5000 for an EV). Totally ridiculous to have the upper & upper middle class get tax breaks paid for by the lower middle class, but hey, I’ll take it.

    1. Lomborg is a discredited charlatan who cherry picks and completely ignores other consequences of a warming planet. It’s fascinating that you give him and those few other non-scientist deniers so much credibility while ignoring the near 100% consensus of actual climate scientists who disagree with him. Where does that obvious disconnect from reality come from? How can you justify it?

      EVs are quieter below 40 km/hr or so. After that they make little difference.

      Those rebates won’t last. They are there to kick start an industry so it can compete against the highly subsidized fossil industries and by extension ICE vehicles. Ramping up the industry creates economies of scale that will more quickly bring down the costs of EVs so the average person can afford them – should they really need a car at all. It is anticipated EVs will cost less than ICE vehicles within a few years. It is unfortunate that the wealthy get a break to help make this happen. I’d rather see higher taxes on ICE vehicles but the result would still be easier on the wealthy and tougher on the less so.

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