On Thursday, Glasgow became the first Scottish city, ahead of Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, to introduce an LEZ stretching from the River Clyde to the south, High Street/Saltmarket to the east and the M8 to the north and west, and entered into force for private vehicles.
Data for the first 24 hours shows that particulate nitrogen dioxide levels in Hope Street have been reduced by more than a third as a result of the measures imposed by Glasgow City Council, meaning they are now within the UK government guidelines.
The LEZ in Glasgow aims to create “cleaner and more breathable” air in the city by restricting older vehicles from entering the area and fine them £60 if they do so.
The zones heavily affect diesel vehicle owners, with a ban on cars built before 2014. This is because without the particulate-stopping filter on newer models, they skip most of the particulates and oxides of nitrogen, which contribute up to 36,000 premature deaths in the UK each year.
In 2013 the world Health The organization officially classified nitrogen oxide as a cause of lung cancer.
As such, in 2021, the WHO established updated guidelines in 2021, with an ambitious recommendation that in a 24-hour period, the level of nitrogen dioxide should not exceed the average of 25 μg/m3.
Despite the introduction of the LEZ, this health guideline has yet to be adhered to in Glasgow. On the first day of LEZ the average over the 24 hour period 35.1 µg/m3.
However, the UK government’s national air quality targets set a target below the WHO guidance of 40 μg/m3, in line with our EU obligations for the period, which the city has met in the first 24 hours.
This data was captured on Hope Street, adjacent to Glasgow Central Station, an area that is subject to frequent congestion during peak traffic periods.
However, the day before, before the introduction of LEZ, the nitrogen dioxide rate was twice the WHO guidelines at 55 μg/m3.
This means that there has been a noticeable impact in a short space of time, with a 27% decrease following the introduction of the guidelines.
Using data from between 6am and 9am, the peak of nitrogen dioxide levels in the city, in the days following and the first 24 hours of the LEZ, it can be seen that the new restrictions have had a considerable impact over the course of the morning trip. .
Comparing 9am on Tuesday this week and 9am on June 2, the second day of the LEZ in full force, there is a 345% reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels on Hope Street in Glasgow city center .
Before the pandemic, nitrogen dioxide concentrations from this monitor on Hope Street in Glasgow averaged 50% higher than the legal safe limit. However, this was the only monitor on Scotland where the levels regularly exceeded the limit.
Average nitrogen dioxide levels on Glasgow High Street in the week leading up to LEZ 27.1 μg/m3 still exceeded health recommendations set by the WHO, but within UK guidelines.
The effect of air pollution on the health of the city was highlighted by Gareth Brown, Chairman of Healthy Air Scotland and Policy and Public Affairs Officer for Asthma + Lung UK Scotland, who said: “With 1 in 5 Scots developing a lung condition such as asthma and obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in their lifetime, for them, air pollution can trigger life-threatening asthma attacks and flare-ups.
“Air pollution in Glasgow is astonishingly 4.5x World World Health Organization (WHO), so it is clear that we must make tackling air pollution a national priority with Low Emission Zones only as the beginning.
The Glasgow Low Emissions Zone launch went ahead despite an eleventh court challenge presented by a local company.
Less than 24 hours before the execution was set to begin in a Glasgow city center area, a ruling by the Court of Session in Edinburgh could have temporarily halted the plan.
A local auto repair company in the Townhead area of the city, which is within the zone, has filed a lawsuit claiming that the move will remove them from business.
Patons Accident Repair Centre, a 60-year-old company, said the LEZ could wipe out more than a third of its business as it deals with a high volume of non-compliant vehicles.
“Our cities need to be redesigned to be much healthier places, where people can walk and bike and not be forced to breathe toxic levels of air.”
A council spokesperson said: “The Glasgow LEZ has ruled on exceedances of the statutory target for annual mean nitrogen dioxide, a harmful air pollutant linked to a range of health conditions.
“Restricting the access of those vehicles that contribute disproportionately to the emissions of the area where air pollution levels are highest is a vital step to improve air quality and the health of all who use the city center.
“Air pollution levels are highly variable and depend on a number of contributing factors, including weather patterns. Therefore, it will be some time before the benefits of the LEZ can be reported, particularly as the main expected benefit relates to long-term annual average pollution concentrations.
“Air quality is subject to statutory annual reports, as is any operational LEZ, and the impact of the zone will be fully considered in these reports.”