The BBC working with data provided by EarthSense have launched a tool allowing you to see “How polluted is your street“You simply enter your postcode and you get a score from 1 to 6 and the average for your area.
The ratings are based on the amount of Nitrogen Dioxide NO2 in the air.
Each area is rated from 1, the least polluted to 6, most polluted. Over 80% of Great Britain’s post codes are in the lowest category. None fortunately are in the worst. Only 1% are rated in categories 4 and 5, but as these are mainly densely populated areas, a higher percentage of people are affected. Three-quarters of the worst areas are in London. The Marylebone Road, the main East-West link across central London and busy Hyde Park Corner as well as Brixton Road are rated badly.
Category 1: The air in your area is generally clean and well below the legal levels for pollutants such as NO2.
Category 2: The air in your area is generally cleaner than the regulatory limits and should not cause health concerns except in exceptional weather conditions.
Category 3: The annual average concentrations of pollutants in this area are likely to be marginally above the regulatory guidelines. In stagnant weather conditions, peak traffic flows may cause higher levels which merit some caution. Health studies suggest a marginal health impact for most individuals in these conditions.
Category 4: There are likely to be regular episodes of moderate pollution in these areas, with annual average concentrations above regulatory guidelines. Sensitised individuals (eg. Asthma sufferers) should manage exposure and exercise levels accordingly and there are likely to be some health impacts of long-term exposure.
Category 5: Pollution concentrations in this area are likely to frequently exceed WHO guidelines and regulatory limits. Annual average concentrations are highly likely to be above 40 ug/m3 of NO2 with associated health impacts. Residents should monitor air quality forecasts and manage exposure appropriately.
Should we worry
It’s estimated that air pollution contributes to 40,000 early deaths per year. It particularly affects people with heart and lung issues. It’s wise to avoid the most polluted areas if you can such as walking on side roads. An article in the London Evening Standard based on Labour party analysis claims that over half of British children are exposed to “illegal” levels of air pollution.