Toxic roundabout illegally polluted despite lockdown traffic dip

John has lived by the roundabout for decades (Mums for Lungs)

Crooked Billet roundabout is so polluted it breaks the law – and a group of concerned parents hope to remind everyone who walks past

It’s not only the most polluted place in Waltham Forest, it’s also among the most polluted in the whole of London, which has a devastating effect on those who live nearby.

Laws set by the EU, which the UK Government committed to retaining post-Brexit, set the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide at 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air. However, despite a dramatic drop in air pollution during lockdown, the Walthamstow roundabout’s average level of pollution last year still crept above this threshold. 

John, who has lived beside Crooked Billet for decades, spoke to campaign group Mums for Lungs E17 about the impact the toxic air had on the health of his own family.

He said: ”We’ve lived beside the Crooked Billet roundabout for fifty years and seen the traffic increase monumentally.

“My son grew up suffering from asthma and was hospitalised with it. More action is needed to clean up our air.” 

Mums for Lungs is a London-wide environmental campaign group, seeking to highlight the effect of unclean air on the health of young children. The group have painted stencils at 15 spots across the capital, including the roundabout, to show where monitors recorded illegal pollution levels last year.

Ruth with the stencil painted by the roundabout (Mums for Lungs)

Ruth Board, who co-founded the group’s E17 branch, previously told the Echo she was inspired to take action after seeing her infant son struggle with repeated lung infections.

She said: “He was admitted to hospital several times with [the respiratory infection] bronchiolitis and lots of other young children were poorly too.

“I grew up on the south coast and had never come across it until I had a baby in London, which made me wonder what was making it worse here.”

She acknowledged efforts to lower air pollution, such as the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone, “can be quite controversial” but argued they were a “win-win” for everyone, including drivers.

Next month’s expansion will bring Crooked Billet roundabout – and seven more of the highlighted pollution hotspots across London – within the ULEZ in an attempt to cut down pollution from traffic.

Ruth, and co-founder Kay Ali, said the group “fully support” the expansion, adding: “It’s the most vulnerable in society, including children, that suffer the most with breathing difficulties and poor health. 

“The ULEZ expansion is a road scheme we can all get behind. It will provide a positive change for everyone in the zone and beyond, as they benefit from breathing cleaner air.”

Find out more about Mums for Lungs here.