Air quality is an issue that affects all Londoners, and improving it is a big priority for the council. Like much of London, Merton is designated an air quality management area. This means more needs to be done in our borough to reduce the emissions that are so harmful to health – especially in children.
Road traffic is the biggest cause of London's air pollution, with nearly two thirds of the main pollutant, nitrogen dioxide, emitted from vehicles.
With initiatives such as more electric car charging points, school safety zones, play streets, car free days and incentives to encourage greener journeys, the council is taking action to reduce air pollution caused by traffic. However, we cannot make the level of change that is needed without significant help from you.
So we're asking you to think about how you travel around the borough and consider leaving your car at home for more of the journeys you take. Could you switch from a petrol or diesel car to an electric or hybrid, or even do without a car altogether?
My clean air challenge
The challenge invites Merton residents to commit to three actions to help cut air pollution and improve everyone's health.
- Switch off your engine when you're not moving. Idling needlessly increases air pollution and is a particular issue outside schools, in town centres and at level crossings.
- Walk, cycle, scoot or take public transport instead of driving. Walking and cycling mean zero pollution, with added mental and physical wellbeing benefits these healthy forms of travel are also an easy way of adding activity to your day.
- Sign up to airTEXT. This free service provides three-day forecast alerts for air quality, pollen, UV and temperature via SMS text message, email and voicemail. These alerts are particularly helpful for people with asthma, bronchitis or other health conditions, which are exacerbated by poor air quality.
Go the extra mile
Here are even more tips to tackle air pollution:
- Bonfires are a significant cause of pollution. Sign up for our garden waste collections instead.
- Become a volunteer at future idling action days and help encourage other car drivers to switch off their engine when their car is stationary.
- Make sure you are confident when cycling around the borough: book a free cycle training course
- If you're replacing your car, consider an electric vehicle or joining a car club instead.
- Having your car serviced regularly and keeping tyres at the right pressure can help too.
- Make sure your boiler is serviced each year to help it burn fuel more cleanly.
- Avoid buying wood-burning stoves as they release thousands of chemicals into the air.
- Next time you replace your gas boiler we highly recommend that you upgrade to an ultra-low NOx boiler.