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What can you do

Engaging the public is the only way that we can solve the air pollution crisis. Every Londoner is both a victim and a perpetrator when it comes to air pollution.

There are many ways in which you can play your part in improving the situation. These can be divided into three categories:

Raising awareness

Raising awareness is the first step in our battle against air pollution. The Council is working hard to raise awareness of air pollution but you can help us. Talk to your friends and family about the negative impact that poor air quality is having on them, and the negative impact they are having on air quality.

Reducing exposure

Most air pollution drops off very quickly with distance from the emission source. You can reduce your exposure to air pollution by avoiding busy roads wherever possible. Tower Hamlets is lucky to have a wide variety of options when it comes to clean air routes.

Try using:

  • the canal network,
  • the Thames Path,
  • one of our many parks
  • some of the quieter back streets for your next journey.

To help you choose your route the Cross River Partnership have developed a Clean Air Route Planner. Use the map to find routes that have a low exposure to pollution when walking or cycling.

Please find our Cycling pages for resources about cycling in the borough.

You can also sign up to the free AirTEXT service to receive air pollution alerts during pollution events. For more information on AirTEXT

Find out what the air pollution level is today.

Reducing emissions

The most important action we can take is to reduce emissions at their source. The pie chart below shows the main sources of nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution in Tower Hamlets.

Distribution of NOx emissions in Tower Hamlets (2016)

 Air Quality - Distribution of NOx emissions in Tower Hamlets 2016


The pie chart clearly shows that the majority of NOx pollution comes from road transport – in particular, diesel vehicles.

Distribution of PM2.5 Emissions in Tower Hamlets (2016)

Air Quality - Distribution of PM2.5 Emissions in Tower Hamlets (2016) 2


The pie chart shows that the majority of PM2.5 pollution comes from road transport, industrial process, construction and commercial cooking. 

Distribution of PM10 Emissions in Tower Hamlets (2016)

Air Quality 3

The pie chart shows that the majority of PM10 pollution comes from Construction, Road transport.

(Source – LAEI 2016)

By choosing to walk or cycle instead of drive you can have an impact on poor air quality. In addition, pollution exposure is “nine to 12 times higher inside the car than outside”. Choosing active transport will have further benefits to your health through exercise. Taking public transport is also a positive change.

Please see the Tower Hamlets Cycle Map, and the Clean Air Route Planner for alternative routes.

Warmer home grant and gas heating scheme

The sources of PM are slightly different to those of NOx. Domestic solid fuel burning contributes almost 40% of primary particulate matter in the UK (reference). This compares with industrial combustion (16 per cent) and road transport (12%).

The best thing you can do to reduce emissions of PM is to choose not to burn solid fuel. If you do not have a gas mains connection or know someone who doesn’t, you may qualify for a grant to install gas central heating in your home – see the Greater London Authority Warmer Homes Grant or our own gas heating scheme. If you do not burn solid fuel then it is unlikely that you are contributing significantly to PM pollution