Whetstone's poisonous air pollution

27 November 2016

Poisonous air pollution in Whetstone


Council workers and members of the public going to and from Barnet Council's huge Barnet House office block are having to wade through poisonous levels of air pollution at double the legal limit, Barnet Green Party has discovered.


Commuters walking to Totteridge & Whetstone Tube station and shoppers in Whetstone High Road are also gulping plenty of Nitrogen Dioxide, with a reading outside Boots shop on the corner of High Road and Totteridge Lane coming in above 100 microgrammes per cubic metre, two and a half times the legal limit.


NO2 readings were illegally high too around the new Alma primary school at the junction of Friern Barnet Lane with Whetstone High Road. Three nearby diffusion tubes all recorded levels above the legal maximum.


The high readings near schools are particularly worrying as it has been shown that NO2 pollution can reduce lung growth in children by 10% and this can never be recuperated.


"These levels are appalling. Research has shown nitrogen dioxide can be an aggravating factor in asthma and other illnesses by itself as well as in combination with other pollutants," says Adele Ward, co-chair of Barnet Green Party.


"Nitrogen dioxide is often a good indication that the air in a location also contains other high levels of poisonous pollutants such as particulates."


Barnet Green Party put up NO2 monitoring diffusion tubes from Gradko Environmental for a fortnight at nine locations around Whetstone (details below). All but one, on Whetstone Stray allotments, came back with readings above the annual average legal limit of 40 μg/m3 (microgrammes per cubic metre).


"Readings we have now taken in dozens of locations around Barnet show that there are many NO2 blackspots in the borough. Air pollution is not just something affecting inner London and it is about time Barnet Council took the problem seriously," Ward said.


Barnet Green member Andrew Newby, who lives in Whetstone, said: "One of the latest readings was next to the ancient Whet Stone, opposite Barnet House. The Wars of the Roses soldiers who reputedly sharpened their swords on the stone on the way to the Battle of Barnet can never have imagined that the surrounding air would now be so foul."


Whetstone Nitrogen Dioxide readings (μg/m3)

Outside Boots, High Road, N20 109.48

Next to the Whet Stone, opposite Barnet House 83.34

Outside Three Horshoes (opposite Alma School) 76.47

Outside St John's Hall (next to Alma School) 60.69

Outside Bollywood Spice (next to Alma School) 73.19

Entrance to Queenswell Schools, Sweets Way 44.09

Outside St. John's Church, High Road, N20 55.93

Domville Close, N20 41.06

Field Three, Whetstone Stray allotments 27.22