The survey, conducted by the Institute of Occupational Medicine, ranks Croydon 27th of all London boroughs when it comes to the levels of particulates carried in the air.
Central London boroughs tend to come off worst for particulate levels because of their high levels of traffic, though those who live in suburbs are still vulnerable, with the young, elderly and people with asthma and heart disease at particular risk.
But Croydon is ranked second in the table for likely deaths each year as a consequence of pollution, with 205 projected. Only neighbouring Bromley, with 217 deaths per year, is rated worse in the IOM’s study.
According to the survey, Croydon residents are twice as likely to die because of long-term exposure to road vehicle-generated pollution than those who live in Merton, Tower Hamlets or Richmond.
“This report makes clear the worst air quality and greatest legal breaches occur in inner London and near our busiest roads,” said Simon Birkett, the founder of the Campaign for Clean Air in London. “For the first time, though, it shows that air pollution is a problem throughout London.
“It may therefore come as a surprise to some in outer London who thought air pollution was not their problem. I urge people to see what the health study shows for their local area.”
It has long been accepted that children exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide and other motoring-related pollution have a much higher incidence of long-term asthma and other breathing problems.
Despite its many parks and green spaces, as a north-south through route from central London to the M25, the impact on air quality for Croydon’s many areas of high density population is a growing health problem.
Transport for London, in conjunction with the borough Council, has been leaving the grass verges on major roads uncut for longer over the past couple of years, not just to save cash, they say, but also to help reduce carbon emissions from the roads.
Among the Mayor of London’s other initiatives to reduce pollution across the city is his bicycle hire scheme and conversion of the bus fleet to hybrid vehicles.
But with air quality in the City of London recently reported for breaking European Union safety levels, Mayor Boris Johnson will be expected to do more to reduce pollution throughout the capital.
In total, according to the survey, more than 4,200 Londoners die prematurely every year because of long-term exposure to traffic pollution.