Air in Camden is getting cleaner – but more remains to do

Following Clean Air Day on 15 June, Camden Council is pleased to report the latest data show a continuing trend of cleaner air in Camden – but with more work to be done.

Confirmed data for 2022 show that nitrogen dioxide levels fell at nearly two thirds of Camden’s more than 200 monitoring sites since 2021.

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden

Clean Air Day marked the key day of campaigning action to remind people of the importance of cleaning up our air.

Camden Council was the first local authority to commit to achieving the updated World Health Organization air quality guidelines. We are working with partners in the borough and beyond to drive sources of air pollution down as quickly as possible.

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden

Progress in Camden since 2022

The average change across all diffusion tube NO2 monitoring sites was a 1.4% reduction. This is despite a continued trend of traffic returning towards pre-pandemic levels; in Camden, a third of nitrogen dioxide air pollution comes from road transport.

Monitoring sites north of Euston Road showed a larger improvement from 2021 to 2022 compared to those south of Euston Road. This is in part thanks to the expansion of the London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in October 2021.

At monitoring sites installed since 2019, nitrogen dioxide levels have fallen on average 31%. Ten sites in Camden still exceeded the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide – a reminder of the need for continued action. However, this marks a major improvement since 2019 when 96 sites breached the legal limit.

WHO targets are more stringent than the legal limits mandated by the government. To track Camden’s progress towards healthier and safer WHO levels by 2034, the council has set interim targets to be achieved by 2026 and 2030.

On Camden’s journey to WHO levels, the council can report that:

199 (82%) of the 242 diffusion tube nitrogen dioxide sites in 2022 complied with the Council’s 2026 target of 30µg/m3. Encouragingly, a total of 44 (18%) sites also met the 2030 target of 20µg/m3.

The second key type of air pollution measures is particulate matter, of which the most harmful is PM2.5. This form of air pollution rose slightly from 2021 to 2022 at two of three ‘automatic monitoring’ sites in Camden, with the third showing no overall change. A large portion of PM2.5 in the air in Camden comes into the borough from external sources so from one year to the next we are significantly affected by long-range transportation of PM2.5 from emissions elsewhere in the UK and internationally.

National data confirms that PM2.5 emissions in the UK rose slightly from 2020 to 2021, which suggests the same may have happened in 2021 to 2022. Sources of these emissions include agriculture, industrial activity and from domestic fireplaces and wood-burners, which can be a major source of wintertime air pollution.

Despite the persistent challenge in tackling national emissions of PM2.5, in 2022 two of the three automatic monitoring sites already met the Council’s 2030 interim target of 10µg/m3. These locations were Russell Square (Bloomsbury) and Coopers Lane (St Pancras).

The ultimate goal is to achieve the 5µg/m3 WHO guideline by 2034. This will require sustained effort on all fronts – tackling local emissions as well as leading by example and advocating for action at national and international scale to push for a transition to cleaner transport, industry, agriculture and buildings.

Councillor Harrison continued:

In March, Camden launched its new Clean Air Action Plan 2023-2026, setting out the next four years of our ambitious air quality programme to realise the vision for a borough with clean air.

“Our Plan seeks to tackle the local sources of NO2 and particulate matter air pollution whilst also helping to build public awareness as well as also advocating for action and ambition in national policy, to help to control pollution sources outside of Camden’s boundaries.

“We also committed to increasing our air quality monitoring and publishing data and have now launched an updated online data page which for the first time provides the full range of air quality monitoring data available in Camden.”

More information about Clean Air Day can be found on the campaign website:

Further information about the Council’s air quality work can be found at