Air quality

Despite improvements in air quality since the 1950s, air pollution continues to affect our health.

In any urban environment, the two major sources of airborne pollutants are exhaust emissions from traffic and combustion energy plant emissions for example, gas boilers and diesel generators.

Further information regarding air quality in London can be found at Air Quality England  and Mayor of London

Air quality management area
Air quality monitoring in H&F
airTEXT - pollution alert service
Clean Air Villages Supplier Director
Air Quality Commission 
Pollution-aware walking routes
Air quality forecast and cleaner air route finder
Smoke control area
Bonfires and burning
Air Quality Annual Status Reports
Tips for drivers
Contact us about air quality

Air quality management area

We have designated the borough an Air Quality Management Area as part of the national Air Quality Strategy.

View the air quality management order (jpg)

View the area covered on this air quality management area map (gif)

Air quality monitoring in H&F

There are currently two continuous Air Quality Monitoring Stations (AQMS) in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. They are HF4 Shepherds Bush Green and the new HF5 Hammersmith Town Centre. Further information can be found on the Air Quality Quality England website.

The HF4 Shepherds Bush Green AQMS monitors the two pollutants Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Particulates (PM10)

The new HF5 AQMS became operational in March 2019 and includes reference compliant equipment that monitors and measures the air pollutants Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Particulates (PM2.5, PM10) and Ozone (O3). HF5 will provide information on the impacts of transport network changes planned in the area including the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) extension into the borough in October 2021 to advise on future measures to reduce pollution. This new station also intends to provide information on the impact on ozone formation from the actions to reduce NO2 emissions.

There are also non-automatic Nitrogen Dioxide Diffusion tube air quality monitors that are located at a number of locations across the borough, further details of which can be found in our Air Quality Annual Status Reports. The reports also include background information on air pollution in H&F and details of our review and assessment of air quality.

airTEXT - pollution alert service

The airTEXT website gives you free pollution forecasts for all London boroughs via text messages, voicemail and email. There are also smartphone apps with daily information on temperature, UV and pollen levels.

airTEXT alerts are particularly valuable if you suffer from asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, heart disease or angina or if you care for someone who could be at risk from high levels of pollution.

Sign up to the AirTEXT info service. Smart phone apps for the iPhone and Android hand sets are available for download.

Further advice when there is an alert for moderate to high or very high air pollution can be found at TfL Air Quality Advice and DEFRA Daily Air Quality Index.

Clean Air Villages (CAV) Supplier Directories

Improve air quality in your area by using our directory of businesses that offer ultra-low emission deliveries and services.

As part of the DEFRA-funded Clean Air Villages programme, H&F, Cross River Partnership and Mayor of London Air Quality Fund, are excited to launch the online Clean Air Village supplier directories for Fulham, Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush.

Fulham Town Centre CAV Supplier Directory.

Hammersmith Town Centre CAV Supplier Directory

Shepherds Bush Town Centre CAV Supplier Directory

These directories list businesses operating in and around Fulham, Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush town centres that deliver using cargo bikes, ultra-low emission electric vehicles or by foot.

It also supports the Mayor of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone that came into effect in April 2019 and will be expanded to include H&F in October 2021. 

Ultra-low emission suppliers case studies

Air Quality Commission

Hammersmith & Fulham has the eighth highest percentage of early deaths attributable to nitrogen dioxide and to particulate matter air pollution in London, according to a report by King’s College London. The report, commissioned by the Greater London Authority and Transport for London, estimates that this contributes to the early deaths of 203 residents per year.

In response to this, H&F Council has established a resident-led Air Quality Commission to look into the problem. The commission will engage with external experts and local residents in examining the causes and dangers of local air pollution and propose potential solutions to help reduce it.

Visit the Air Quality Commission's web page.

Pollution-aware walking routes

Walking is a great way to get around the borough, but it can be off-putting if the only routes you know are along main roads.

If you’d like to walk more, but would prefer routes that keep you away from the busiest, most polluted roads, you may be interested in the west London urban walking routes walkit.com website.

Air quality forecast and cleaner air route finder

Check the air quality forecast and if you are walking or cycling in the borough, use our cleaner air route finder to find a cleaner air route in for your journey.

Smoke control area

Hammersmith and Fulham is a smoke control area which means that it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, or from a furnace or any fixed boiler. It is also an offence to use an ‘unauthorised fuel’ unless it is an ‘exempt’ appliance, and even then, it must be a specified fuel for that exempt appliance. The current maximum level of fine is £1,000 for each offence. More information on smoke control areas may be found here: UK Smoke Control Areas.

The main pollutant emitted by burning solid fuels like wood is ultra-fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5. It's not visible to the naked eye, so even 'smokeless' fuels and appliances may be causing pollution. PM2.5 is widely acknowledged as being the air pollutant which has the greatest impact on human health. Both short and long-term exposure to PM2.5 increase the risk of early deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as increased hospital admissions. 

Children growing up exposed to PM2.5 are more likely to have reduced lung function and can develop asthma. Current evidence suggests there is no safe level of PM2.5.

A recent study found wood burning accounts for between 23 and 31 per cent of urban derived PM2.5 in London, which is why controlling wood burning is an important urban issue. Biomass wood burning is the second largest source of PM2.5 in London after road transport. See Airborne particles from wood burning in UK cities KLC - (pdf)

Choosing what you burn and how you burn it can make a big difference to the pollution it creates. Reducing the personal pollution, you and your household are exposed to from domestic burning, is crucial to maintaining long term health and reducing the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Using a well-designed, properly installed stove or appliance can make a big difference.

As a minimum, you should make sure that your stove meets the legal requirements, but even Defra approved stoves can emit high levels of pollution (See below) . From January 2022 all new woodburning stoves will have to meet new EcoDesign standards.

Image 1
Image caption: Image 1: Relative PM2.5 Emissions in your home from Domestic Heating Methods. Information in this image is also displayed in the table which follows.

Relative PM2.5 Emissions in your home from Domestic Heating Methods

Appliance

Main Fuel Source

PM2.5 Emissions (g/MWh)

Pollution Rating

Air/Water Source Heat Pump

Renewable Heat from Air/Ground/Water

0

Low

Electric boiler

Electricity

0

Low

Gas Fired Boiler

Gas

0.72

Moderate

Oil Fire Gas Boiler

Oil

16

Moderate

Pellet Fired Boiler

Wood

216

High

ClearSkies Stove-Level 5

Wood

235

High

Clearskies Stove Level 4

Wood

285

High

Ecodesign Stove

Wood

335

High

Non DEFRA exempt Stove

Coal, Wood

2660

Very High

Solid Fuel Open Fire

Coal, Wood

2950

Very High

The clearSkies stove accreditation scheme (launched in September 2020) is an emissions and efficiency accreditation scheme that goes even further than EcoDesign requirements. If you're planning to replace your woodburning stove or open fireplace we recommend purchasing a clearSkies level 4 or level 5 product.

If you have a stove or other appliance you can usually use normal wood as well as smokeless fuels. Usually wood that has been kiln dried or seasoned to have a lower moisture content will be much less polluting, as much as 50 per cent less pollution than emitted from burning fresh logs. Drier wood is also more efficient, producing more heat per log and less likely to cause a chimney fire. Wood that has the Woodsure Ready to Burn label is certified to have a low moisture content, for a full list of suppliers see the list on the Woodsure website.

If you’re on a low income and burning solid fuel is your primary source of heating, you may be eligible for free heating, insulation and ventilation improvements under the Mayor’s Warmer Homes Programme.

Open fireplaces are the most polluting way to burn solid fuels. If you're using an open fireplace you should only burn smokeless fuels. Currently, not all fuels sold in London are smokeless; if in doubt ask your supplier. Smokeless fuels officially authorised by the government are listed on the Defra website here: Smokeless Fuels. Although we don’t have direct evidence of the impact of coal and briquette burning on air quality, there is no reason to believe the impact would be less than that of wood burning. Burning coal and briquettes also contributed to human-induced climate change.

You should not burn old pallets, furniture or scrap wood as it may contain contaminants that can be harmful to your health and the environment.

It is important to store your fuels correctly to make sure your wood and briquettes do not get damp from the rain or damp in the ground. 

Any stove or fireplace should also be properly maintained and your chimney should be swept regularly.

Bonfires and burning

There are no laws against having a bonfire, but there are laws against the nuisance they cause. Burning materials can be very harmful to the environment and peoples’ health. That’s why we discourage residents and businesses from burning in our borough.

For more information visit the bonfires and burning page.

Reports

Tips for drivers to help reduce pollution

Think before you drive

Before you use your car ask yourself:

  • do I really need to make this journey?
  • could I combine several trips rather than making lots of short trips or share a car? Short journeys (less than 2 miles) when the engine is cold pollute up to 60 per cent more per mile than when the engine is hot. 
  • could I walk, cycle or take the bus or train instead of taking the car?     

In Hammersmith & Fulham there are a quarter of a million car trips per week of less than 2 miles. That short journey might be ideal for walking or cycling. 

Around 70 percent of the population are not active enough to stay fit. Thirty minutes of moderate activity 5 days per week is enough to cut the risk of heart disease and diabetes by 50 per cent and substantially reduce levels of blood pressure and stress. A simple way of doing this is to walk or cycle for short journeys. 

Out of 10 car trips, could you make one by any other means?  

If every driver did this it would cut traffic to the levels seen in the school holidays. 

Road traffic is the biggest source of air pollution in London 

More than 1,000 people die each year in London due to poor air quality and several thousand others suffer serious health impacts such as breathing difficulties. It is also estimated that as many as a million people experience less serious effects. 

You may think that you can't do much to help but if all drivers do a little bit to reduce pollution this will add up to a noticeable change - you can make a difference. 

What can I do to help?

  • Reducing the number of miles driven is by far the best way to reduce pollution. 
  • If every car in Hammersmith & Fulham were driven 5 miles less per week it would remove more than 10 million miles of traffic off the roads each year
  • Could you cut your mileage by 5 miles per week?     

Top tips to drive down pollution

The way you drive has an effect on the emissions and the amount of fuel you use. Following these basic economy driving skills could cut emissions and save you around 30 per cent in fuel costs (the equivalent of 25p on every litre of fuel you use). 

  • Don't over-rev the engine, particularly when starting your vehicle.  
  • Drive smoothly. Driving aggressively causes more pollution, will increase your risk of having an accident and will cost you more in fuel. Avoid rapid acceleration and heavy braking, and use the minimum acceleration necessary, even in a traffic jam.
  • Remember - accelerate smoothly, brake gently.
  • Slow down, driving at higher speeds significantly increases fuel consumption, pollution and increases your risk of having an accident.
  • Obey the speed limits. On faster roads, doing 50 mph can use 25 per cent less fuel than 70 mph. Driving at 90 mph can use 60 per cent more fuel than doing 70 mph.
  • Use higher gears, as soon as traffic conditions allow. Be prepared to skip gears (up and down) to suit your speed and the terrain.
  • Switch off the engine when idling. Idling engines burn fuel and waste money. Sitting stationary is zero miles per gallon, switch off the engine whenever it is safe to do so.
  • Cold starts. A car warms up faster when it is moving.
  • Don't sit and wait for the car to warm up - drive off as soon as possible after starting.
  • Use air-conditioning (AC) sparingly. AC is a drain on the cars engine and can increase fuel consumption by up to 20 per cent. On not so hot days and in stop start traffic wind down the window or use the air vents instead.     

Look after your vehicle

  • Check your fuel consumption - it will help you get the most from the car. A reduction usually means there is a problem. 
  • Regular servicing helps keep the engine at its best efficiency. This is important as drivers can now be stopped by the police to have their vehicle's emissions checked at the roadside. High emissions can result in a fine.
  • Check your tyre pressure. Under-inflated tyres will increase your fuel bills and increase emissions.
  • Minimise drag. Roof or rear mounted racks, and driving with windows open increases wind resistance and the amount of fuel you use. So wind your window up and remove racks if you're not using them.
  • Travel light. Extra weight increases the amount of fuel you use. Check the boot regularly and take out what you don't need.     

Following this advice will help you do your bit to improve local air quality. It will also help reduce CO2 a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. 

The car you drive

Vehicles with diesel engines are the largest source of air pollution in London. Petrol and diesel engines emit different levels of different pollutants. If you're buying a new (or second-hand) car you can help improve London's air quality by driving a less polluting vehicle. The Mayor of London Cleaner Vehicle Checker can help you make an informed choice when buying a new ULEZ-compliant car or van.

The Cleaner Vehicle Checker Mayor of London Cleaner Vehicle Checker lists cars and vans that meet the ULEZ standards, as well as the nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution they emit in real-world driving conditions - low, moderate or high - not just during compliance testing in labs.

Vehicles that have zero tailpipe emissions of air pollution are the best option. This includes electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Electric vehicles could save you more than £500 per year on fuel costs as well as reducing pollution levels. There are a number of electric cars on the market with very low running costs. This kind of information can be found online on sites like Next Green car.

Contact us

To comment on these pages, or to find out more about air quality issues, email us at airquality@lbhf.gov.uk