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John sitting down

Health effects of air pollution

John's story

9 March 2020

John is 72 and lives in Southwark. He loves the hustle and bustle of the area, but is not very mobile and doesn’t get out as much as he’d like to.

Meet John

John is 72 and lives in Southwark. He loves the hustle and bustle of the area, but is not very mobile and doesn’t get out as much as he’d like to.

John lives in Borough and spends a lot of time around the market. This is an area with high levels of both nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, affecting his exposure to the health impacts of air pollution:

  • Weekly trips to the local market – moderate levels of air pollution (46 ug/m3)
  • Trips to two local hospitals – both moderate levels of air pollution (46 ug/m3 and 43 ug/m3)
John in the market
John outside

John's experience

In the late 60s coal fires were banned in London. Now they’re thinking of banning wood burners because they’re giving out a certain type of pollution. But you’ve got to have gas fires and central heating, which means more power stations pumping out more pollution. So it’s a vicious circle.

Air pollution doesn’t affect me so much, at least visibly.

Maybe it does. I can’t see anything. I can’t see any factories with smoke billowing out and stuff like that, where if you go back to the 60s and 50s in London, the smog.

But I suppose health-wise, it’s probably affecting everybody, quietly, slowly, creeping up on us.

We don’t notice it. We can't see it. If pollution was like snowflakes, then we’d be worried...There’s nothing I can do about it, only governments can change things. I think it’s just a general thing in the world in cities, pollution from cars mostly. In my lifetime, it’s not going to change.

John