London's annual pollution limit for 2018 breached within a month
30 January 2018, 17:28
January may not be quite over but London has already breached its legal air pollution limit for the whole year.
Nitrogen dioxide levels in Brixton Road, Lambeth, have exceeded hourly limits 18 times already this year.
This is the maximum allowed per year under European Union air quality rules.
In 2017, it took just five days to reach this limit and London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the improvement "shows our plans are beginning to have an impact".
"It's time for the Government to match my ambition so all Londoners can breathe easy," he wrote on Twitter.
In October, it was reported that 44 out of 51 British towns and cities failed pollution tests.
A report by the World Health Organisation said Glasgow and Scunthorpe had the highest number of disease-causing sooty particles (known as PM2.5s).
Eastbourne, Leeds, London, Salford and Southampton were the next worst.
At the time, Dr Toby Hillman, one of the report's authors from the Royal College of Physicians, said: "There isn't a safe limit for the amount of pollution that's been defined as yet and we know the effects of poor air quality run from cradle to grave; it's a lifetime threat to human health.
"This is a really direct and tangible impact on UK health from the drivers of climate change, and taking action on air quality should be a priority."
Meanwhile, UK ministers are among those who were called to Brussels to talk about the continuing failure of EU countries to meet targets to cut air pollution this week.
After the meeting, EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella said that, despite "some positive suggestions", these limits could be exceeded "even well beyond 2020".
He said: "Every year, an astonishing number of citizens' lives are cut short because of air pollution.
"We have known this for decades, and the air quality limit values have been in place for almost as long.
"And yet, still today, in 2018, 400,000 people (across Europe) are still dying prematurely every year because of a massive, widespread failure to address the problem."
The UK and other countries could face legal action from the EU if they do not do enough to tackle air pollution.
(c) Sky News 2018: London's annual pollution limit for 2018 breached within a month