London’s Mayor Issues First ‘Very High’ Air Pollution Alert

The Houses of Parliament in London is shrouded in fog on Jan. 23.

Photographer: Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images

Sadiq Khan issued the first “very high” air pollution alert of his eight-month tenure as London mayor, advising citizens to reduce physical exertion and avoid running outside.

The current air pollution episode, worsened by cold and settled weather, has seen levels of dangerous PM10 particulate pollution rise in parts of London to 101 micrograms per cubic meter, Khan’s office said on Monday in an e-mailed statement. That’s more than double permitted hourly levels. Camden, the City of London and Westminster are the worst-affected areas, with a pollution rating of 10, the highest on a 10-point scale.

“Today the shameful state of London’s toxic air has meant that I am forced to trigger the first ‘very high’ air pollution alert under my new comprehensive alert system,” Khan said in the statement. “Everyone -- from the most vulnerable to the physically fit -- may need to take precautions to protect themselves from the filthy air.”

The U.K. government is struggling to rein in toxic levels of air pollution that the Royal College of Physicians estimates kills about 40,000 people a year nationwide. Khan has made tackling the problem a priority of his tenure, promising to spend 875 million pounds ($1.1 billion) through the 2021-22 fiscal year to tackle poor air quality.

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