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The Mums for Lungs campaign has published an updated version of its London's Toxic Air flyer, intended primarily for distribution at school Christmas fairs, but also useful for informing everyone about the problem of air pollution in the capital and ways in which individuals can help reduce pollution and their exposure to dirty air.

Mums for Lungs is a group of London parents. The group was established in Brixton in 2017, when the founding members were on maternity leave. Walking around South London with small babies they became aware of the toxic levels of air pollution on London’s streets.

You can read the new flyer below or download a printable version.

mums for lungs logo

London's toxic air

A deadly problem

Toxic air contributes to thousands of early deaths each year in our capital city1. Particulate air pollution (PM2.5) was estimated to be responsible for 6.5% of all adult deaths in the London region in 20172. Road transport (particularly diesel vehicles) produces particulate matter and toxic gases and is responsible for a large proportion of London’s air pollution.

Air pollution damages our health

Air pollution is linked to asthma3, heart disease4, strokes5 and lung cancer6. There are suggested links to brain7 and breast cancers8, diabetes9, dementia10, impaired memory11, reduced ability to learn12, poorer exam performance13, mental health problems including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia14, depression15 and teenage psychotic episodes16.

The young and old are particularly vulnerable

Maternal exposure can result in premature17 and low birth-weight babies18. Inhaled tiny carbon particles have even been found in mothers’ placentas19. Children living in highly-polluted areas of London are more likely to have reduced lung growth20. In old age, a lifetime of exposure can result in reduced life expectancy21, an increased risk of stroke22 and heart attacks23.


1.     Walton H et al, ‘Understanding the Health Impacts of Air Pollution in London’, King’s College London report for TfL and GLA, July 2015. website, Health and exposure to pollution.

2.     ‘Public Health Outcomes Framework’, Public Health England,

3.     Anderson HR et al, ‘Long-term exposure to air pollution and the incidence of asthma: meta-analysis of cohort studies’, Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health, 2013.

Achakulwisut P et al, ‘Global, national and urban burdens of paediatric asthma incidence attributable to ambient NO2 pollution: estimates from global datasets’, The Lancet Planetary Health, 2019.

4.     Adar SD et al, ‘Fine particulate air pollution and the progression of carotid intima-medial thickness: a prospective cohort study from the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis and air pollution’, PLOS Medicine, 2013.

5.     Feigin VL et al, ‘Global Burden of Stroke and Risk Factors in 188 countries during 1990-2013’, Lancet Neurology, 2016.

6.     Raaschou-Nielsen O et al, ‘Air pollution and lung cancer incidence in 17 European cohorts: prospective analyses from the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE)’, The Lancet Oncology, 2013.

7.     Weichenthal, S et al, ‘Within-City Spatial Variations in Ambient Ultrafine Particle Concentrations and Incident Brain Tumors in Adults’, Epidemiology, 2019.

8.     Villeneuve P, ‘Residential exposure to fine Particulate Matter air pollution and incident of breast cancer in a cohort of Canadian women’, Environmental Epidemiology, 2018.

9.     Eze IC et al, ‘Association between ambient air pollution and diabetes mellitus in Europe and North America: systematic review and meta-analysis’, Environmental Health Perspectives, 2015.

10.   Carey I et al, ‘Are noise and air pollution related to the incidence of dementia? A cohort study in London, England’, BMJ Open, 2018. Peters R et al, ‘Air Pollution and Dementia: A Systematic Review’, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2019.

11.   Powdthavee N and Oswald A, ‘Is there a link between air pollution and impaired memory? Evidence on 34,000 English citizens’ (to be published in Ecological Economics in March 2020).

12.   Zhang X et al, ‘The impact of exposure to air pollution on cognitive performance’, PNAS, 2018.

13.   Roth S, ‘The Effect of Indoor Air Pollution on Cognitive Performance: Evidence from the UK’, LSE Working Paper, 2019.

14.   Khan A et al, ‘Environmental pollution is associated with increased risk of psychiatric disorders in the US and Denmark’, PLOS Biology, 2019.

15.   Roberts S et al, Exploration of NO2 and PM2.5 air pollution and mental health problems using high-resolution data in London-based children from a UK longitudinal cohort study’, Psychiatry Research, 2019.

16.   Newbury, J et al, ‘Association of Air Pollution Exposure with Psychotic Experiences During Adolescence’, JAMA Psychiatry, 2019.

17.   Ha S et al, ‘The effects of air pollution on adverse birth outcomes’, Environmental Research, 2014.

18.   Glinianaia SV et al, ‘Particulate air pollution and fetal health: a systematic review of the epidemiologic evidence’, Epidemiology, 2004.

19.   Liu N et al, ‘Do inhaled carbonaceous particles translocate from the lung to the placenta?’, abstract presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, 2019. Bové H et al, ‘Ambient black carbon particles reach the fetal side of human placenta’, Nature Communications, 2019.

20.   Griffiths CJ et al, ‘Impact of the London Low Emission Zone on children’s respiratory health: a sequential yearly cross-sectional study 2008–2014’, Thorax, 2016.

21.   Apte J S et al, ‘Ambient PM2.5 reduces global and regional life expectancy’, Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 2018.

22.   Stafoggia M et al, ‘Long-term exposure to ambient air pollution and incidence of cerebrovascular events: results from 11 European cohorts within the ESCAPE project’, Environmental Health Perspectives, 2014.

Cesaroni G et al, ‘Long-term exposure to ambient air pollution and incidence of acute coronary events: meta-analysis in 11 European cohorts within the ESCAPE project’, BMJ, 2014.

mums for lungs logo

What you can do to improve local air quality & your family’s health

Walk, cycle, scoot – don’t pollute

Ditch the car for short trips to school and the shops. Use public transport or your bike for longer trips.

If you have to use a car, consider buying a cleaner one

Use an app or TfL’s ULEZ Vehicle Checker to find the least-polluting electric or hybrid option. Or try car-sharing.

Don’t idle

Turn off your engine at railway crossings, traffic lights and in heavy traffic.

Keeping it switched off until you’re ready to drive will use less fuel, save you money & reduce pollution.

Keep away from the kerb

...when walking along busy roads or waiting at bus stops. Take quieter roads wherever possible.

Stop using wood-burning stoves and open fires

...because they produce significant amounts of harmful particulate matter.

Rethink home deliveries

Group your deliveries or collect them from a locker. Choose delivery companies that use cleaner vehicles. Better still, shop locally on foot and by bike.

Join Mums for Lungs & help us campaign for cleaner air!

Facebook: MumsforLungs

Twitter: @MumsForLungs


Mums for Lungs

Download London's Toxic Air

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Neil Littman's Avatar
Neil Littman posted a reply #4998 05 Dec 2019 11:04
I was astonished to read recently that over 5,000 of London's fleet of buses are still 100% diesel. Where does this leave the policy of the Mayor of London in changing things for our health? I thought that all buses were now hybrid or electric but this doesn't seem to be the case.
Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #5009 08 Dec 2019 13:04
No need for astonishment, simply go and look at any of the many red buses that cross cross this area frequently. and have been doing for years. Change in such capital and infrastructure intensive items is inevitably not going to be overnight. There's even been commentary that the Labour Party election commitment to electric buses through the UK by 2030, that's a decade away, is fanciful given the extent of infrastructure required.
Madonna Luciana's Avatar
Madonna Luciana posted a reply #5605 07 Oct 2020 07:52
Not everyone can use ride sharing app and use public transport to commute. In such case we all must start using cycles or electric powered cars to travel. DVLA has a lot of strict rules to reduce the number of vehicle on roads that has high emissions. It is also good to have a complete vehicle MOT check every to ensure the pollution control and to know the emission status of the vehicle.