That was the warning issued by environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth this week as pollution readings at a test station in Marylebone Road rose above permitted levels for the 36th day this year.

European law introduced at the end of last year states standards should not be exceeded on more than 35 days a year.

But already the number of harmful fine particles, linked to higher deaths rates, respiratory disease and asthma, has exceeded annual targets.
Jenny Bates, a spokesman for FoE, said: “This breach proves the Government, the Mayor and Westminster City Council aren’t doing enough to tackle pollution in central London.

“They must immediately bring forward new measures to cut traffic or ban the dirtiest vehicles.

“The health of hundreds of thousands of Londoners is at risk.”

Research commissioned by Westminster City Council predicts air quality across the whole of the West End will not meet European standards and heavy traffic is the biggest contributor to the problem.

German city authorities already face prosecution from their inhabitants over similar breaches (see related story) .

The German environmental organization Deutsche Umwelthilfe has begun a string of legal action, backing lawsuits from three Berliners.

The group plans similar actions in Munich, Stuttgart and other major cities.

by Sam Bond

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