Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

London Marathon Leads to 89% Drop in Air Pollution

Health + Wellness
London Marathon Leads to 89% Drop in Air Pollution
The 2018 London Marathon dropped air pollution on one street along its route by 89 percent. Kleon3 / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Global Action Plan, a non-profit organization dedicated to tackling "throw away culture" and the impact it has on humans and the planet, discovered an unexpected health benefit to running marathons.


The group looked at data from air quality monitoring stations along Upper Thames Street, part of the route of the London Marathon, which took place Sunday and causes street closures and traffic reduction as cars make way for runners.

Comparing the data from the marathon with data from the previous three Sundays, the group found an 89 percent drop in air pollution the day of the marathon, Huffington Post UK reported Monday.

"Taking collective action to tackle air pollution every day can make a massive difference, as shown at the London Marathon 2018," Global Action Plan Head of Health Larissa Lockwood told The Huffington Post UK.

The air quality monitor Global Action Plan looked at is part of a larger set of monitors called the London Air Quality Network, which is managed by Kings College London. Global Action Plan looked at air quality from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the days it focused on.

"With traffic free streets pollution levels dropped by 89%. Imagine if more people left the car at home every day. We would suffer far fewer health problems from air pollution," Lockwood said.

Her organization is using these findings to renew calls for a "car free day" in London on June 21, The Evening Standard reported Monday.

The news comes amidst growing concern about air pollution both in the UK and worldwide.

A joint inquiry from four parliamentary committees published in March called air pollution in the UK, which kills 40,000 people annually, a "national health emergency."

And the most recent State of Global Air report, published this April by the Health Effects Institute, found that 95 percent of humans breathe unsafe air. There is increasing evidence from the scientific community that exposure to particulate matter doesn't just cause circulatory and respiratory illness, but also harms brain development in children, leading University of Rochester environmental medicine Prof. Deborah Cory-Slechta to call it "the next lead."

The UK's efforts to combat climate change could have an added benefit of solving its air pollution woes. Currently, the country has plans to ban the sale of new diesel and gas cars by 2040, The Guardian reported.

But on April 17, Environment Minister Claire Perry announced the country would review its climate goals with the intention of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Bringing forward the diesel-and-gas-new-sales ban could help the country reach that goal. And, as the London Marathon data indicates, it would help its capital breathe easier as well.
Fridays for Future climate activists demonstrate in Bonn, Germany on Sept. 25, 2020. Roberto Pfeil / picture alliance via Getty Images

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere hit a new record in 2019 and have continued climbing this year, despite lockdowns and other measures to curb the pandemic, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday, citing preliminary data.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Argentine black-and-white tegu is an invasive species that can reach four-feet long. Mark Newman / Getty Images

These black-and-white lizards could be the punchline of a joke, except the situation is no laughing matter.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Smoke covers the skies over downtown Portland, Oregon, on Sept. 9, 2020. Diego Diaz / Icon Sportswire

By Isabella Garcia

September in Portland, Oregon, usually brings a slight chill to the air and an orange tinge to the leaves. This year, it brought smoke so thick it burned your throat and made your eyes strain to see more than 20 feet in front of you.

Read More Show Less
A rare rusty-spotted cat is spotted in the wild in 2015. David V. Raju / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 4.0

Misunderstanding the needs of how to protect three rare cat species in Southeast Asia may be a driving factor in their extinction, according to a recent study.

Read More Show Less
Cyclone Gati on Sunday had sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. NASA - EOSDIS Worldview

Cyclone Gati made landfall in Somalia Sunday as the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane, the first time that a hurricane-strength storm has made landfall in the East African country, NPR reported.

Read More Show Less