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Talk of the town exhibition – The Air is Toxic

As one walks, cycles, takes a bus, or drives along New Cross Road this week you may notice a new sign, it reads as a warning to all who pass it, This Air is Toxic.

The sign is part of an art exhibition and week of events that started on Tuesday in New Cross Gate highlighting the dangerous levels of air pollution found in the area.

A serious problem which is being faced all across London. Artist Liam Geary Baulch, has collaborated with academics, artists and activists to create a week of free art and discussions about air pollution in the area.

Members of the public can even wear some of the artworks in the form of Totobobo masks designed to protect people from the worst effects of air pollution.

Ros Gray a parent who also works in the area has been involved in the project said: “Air pollution is a serious concern for me.

“As a parent, it would be great to think about how we might galvanise parent concern in New Cross to campaign on this issue.”

The event comes just after the release of a study showing that New Cross Gate and Deptford are up to six times above the World Health Organisation’s limit for the small dangerous PM2.5 air pollution particles.

The study, published earlier this month by Goldsmiths University Professor Jennifer Gabrys, who led the Citizen Sense research team. They found that between October 2016 and September 2017 highs of 150 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic metre of air were recorded by citizens from October 2016 to September 2017, who used ‘dustbox’ monitors to collect air samples.

The recommended amount of PM2.5 is 25 micrograms per cubic metre, and the EU legal limit is 40 micrograms. (3) The new findings show a rise since 2012 when New Cross Road was named the 48th most polluted in the UK – 101 micrograms per cubic metre.

The results are above Lewisham council’s own records, which may be because the council are not taking nearly as many readings as regularly as the local people and organisations who helped create this new citizen sense study.

Despite the statistics, the Mayor of London has failed to include Lewisham in his new special budgets for tackling air pollution across the city.

Campaigners and activists in London are currently pressuring the Mayor to do more to tackle the problem. Campiagn group  Mums for Lungs have been writing letters to the Government.

See the exhibition and take part in the event at: 310 New Cross Road, SE14.

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