NOx emissions legal limits breached on 5 January, London

CONTACT: Alice Munro, Medact – Email: [email protected]


Under EU rules, sites are only allowed to breach hourly limits of 200 ug of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) /m3 air 18 times in a year, but on 5 January 347.7 ug/ m3 was measured on Brixton Road at 9pm, and was the 19th exceedance this year.[1]

In response Doctors Against Diesel have repeated their call for the phase out of diesel vehicles in London by 2025, in line with commitments made last month by the Mayors of Paris, Madrid and Athens. [2]      Doctors Against Diesel are a group of professionals from across the medical and scientific community, who have formed an alliance to voice our concerns regarding the continued use of diesel.

Air pollution consists of particulates and gases, including NO2, and is now one of the leading causes of premature death in the UK, second only to smoking. [3]   In 2015 researchers estimated that in London 5,879 people per year die as a result of NO2, whose lives are shortened by an average of 15 years.[4]   It is associated with a range of diseases, including impaired lung growth and asthma in children, and heart disease and stroke in adults.

Doctors against Diesel are making the specific demand to ban diesel vehicles in London due to recent modelling which found that nearly 40 percent of all NO2 emissions and PM10 pollution within London comes from diesel vehicles.[5]

Professor Chris Griffiths, Royal College of General Practitioners Lead for Environment and Health said: ‘These excessive levels of NOx reflect ongoing annual exposures several times above the legal limits. Traffic pollution is harming people’s health across the lifecourse, adversely affecting children, adults and the elderly. This is a public health problem that needs urgent action.

Alice Munro, Nurse and Coordinator of the group at public health charity Medact said: “It is alarming to hear that legal limits on nitrogen dioxide emissions have been breached even earlier this year than last year.   New evidence shows that even the highest standard new diesel car engines produce much higher emissions on the road than they do in laboratory tests. Banning diesel cars in London is essential if we are to reduce the amount of avoidable illness caused by nitrogen dioxide.”



  • [1]
  • [2]
  • [3] Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants. COMEAP 2010: mortality effects of long term exposure to particulate air pollution in the UK. 2010.
  • [4]
  • [5] Lethal and Illegal: Solving London’s air pollution crisis Available at:

Links to Doctors Against Diesel website and Facebook.