Olympic Athletes Facing London Pollution, City Accused of Not Following EU Rules

With the Summer Olympics only days away, athletes are facing some of the worst air pollution in Europe. London’s NOx and Ozone concentrations have the potential to adversely affect athletes, and the huge crowds that will be attending the games. Athlete performance is likely to be impacted, and attendees with health conditions should be aware to take care to not overdue their own exertion.

Environmental lawyers are preparing to ask Britain’s highest civil court to force the government to comply with EU air quality standards.

The ClientEarth legal organization argues that the British government is breaching the 1 January 2010 EU deadline for complying with air quality plans for London and 16 other cities. The group contends that the government is neglecting its EU obligations to reduce emissions that contribute to urban smog and particulate pollution.

“We’ve seen lots of headlines but very little action from the government,” Alan Andrews, a ClientEarth lawyer in the case, told EurActiv in a telephone interview. Air quality, he said “just doesn’t get the attention it should deserve.”

EEA figures show that Britain has the second highest nitrogen oxide emissions in the EU after Germany, with energy production accounting for 58% of the emissions and road transport 34%.

In a study last year, the EEA reported that levels of some noxious pollutants are on the rise after a decade of decline, and that more than 95% of city residents in the EU regularly breathe ozone levels that exceed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended levels.

Worries about air quality have grown in the lead-up to the 2012 London Olympics. The Met Office, Britain’s official weather service, will be providing reports on air quality during the Games, while some environmentalists warning of a repeat of the stifling smog that threatened the Beijing Games in 2008.

Article by Roger Greenway, appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.

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