Community Online Forum

What is air pollution?

Air quality refers to the condition of the air around us and whether it contains pollutants (chemicals or substances that are not normally there). This is where we get the term ‘air pollution’ from. Most of the air pollution in London is man-made, being produced by traffic, industry, heating and fire smoke.

These pollutants mainly occur outside, but there is also indoor pollution which comes from cleaning chemicals and personal hygiene products, as well as new carpets, furniture and paint. In the area around the Westway a lot of the air pollution comes from vehicle emissions, especially from older and diesel vehicles and the large amount of traffic on the Westway.

How does it affect us?

Being exposed to air pollution every day can have a bad effect on your health, particularly in children because their lungs are still developing. The effects of bad air pollution have been shown to include harm to their brain, heart and immune systems (which fights against infection). The pollution is also dangerous for older people and those with existing health issues such as asthma, other lung problems (for example bronchitis) and heart conditions.

What can we do about it? 

There are many projects in London that help to reduce air pollution, cleaner buses, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which will extend out to White City next year and School Streets – which are roads outside a particular school with a temporary restriction on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times. The restriction applies to school traffic and through traffic, but residents are exempt. The result is a safer, healthier and more pleasant environment for everyone. School Streets are a proactive solution for school communities to tackle air pollution, poor health and road danger reduction. They encourage active travel to school for families and lead to a better environment for everyone.

If you would like to see School Streets set up around your children’s school or beside a school where you live, speak to the headteacher and email the council at Meanwhile Global Action Plan has a Schools Pollution Helpdesk offering useful info to helps schools to tackle air pollution.

Imperial has a network of scientists who do research on many areas related to air pollution, especially its effect on our health. We also work with local councils, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and National Government, as these are the people who set the policies that aim to improve your air quality. We will be running workshops on how to contact your local councillors and MPs with your concerns on air quality and the improvements you would like to see. Please sign up to the air pollution community forum’s mailing list for more info.

Useful links

There is a Clean Air Route finder for your local area, which you can use to find less polluted walking and cycling routes.

And you can find local businesses that use ultra-low emissions deliveries and services. Meanwhile, if you run a business in Hammersmith & Fulham, you can use a free clean air delivery service.

What is the Community Forum and how can locals get involved? 

The Community Forum is a webpage where we can share what we are doing with the White City Air Pollution project, and collect thoughts and suggestions from residents. The page includes past, ongoing and upcoming projects and invites subscribers to discuss specific themes on the webpage, such as the work at White City, air pollution in general and updates from the community and the council on the matter.

Working with the local community

The Grantham Institute is Imperial's hub for all its climate and environmental research, including our research on air pollution. After speaking to residents throughout White City and North Kensington, we realised that air pollution was a topic of concern in the community. Which is why we have launched this project, to bring together people from the local area and our academics to see how we can work together on these issues, better engage with policymakers and ultimately lead to positive change.

The Grantham Institute has already undertaken a lot of work on air quality in the local area, here are some of the highlights:

Working with the local community

two ladies working together

Working with the community

We ran workshops with residents from White City and North Kensington, exploring views on air pollution and how we can engage with the community at large. The workshops highlighted key areas including the importance of engagement with families and policymakers.

We will run activities with children and families, including co-creating an event with residents bringing together the community, academics, campaigners and policymakers.