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New report reveals stunning human health benefit of making one major change to cities: 'The most effective way'

"The decision to expand the ULEZ was not something I took lightly."

"The decision to expand the ULEZ was not something I took lightly."

Photo Credit: iStock

The numbers are in for London's ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ), and they are encouraging. According to a report from Logika Group Air Quality Consultants relayed by the Guardian, the English capital city's decision to begin charging drivers of vehicles that don't meet emissions standards is paying dividends in terms of cleaning up air pollution.

London's ULEZ means that drivers of non-compliant gas-powered cars must pay £12.50 ($15.87, as of the writing of this article) a day to drive in the city. The ULEZ was expanded last year to cover all of London's boroughs.

According to the study, the ULEZ was already having a big effect even before its expansion, reported the Guardian.  The policy led to an estimated reduction in road traffic particulate matter pollution of nearly 200 tons and almost 15,000 fewer tons of nitrous oxide pollution over a three-year period.

"The decision to expand the ULEZ was not something I took lightly but, when confronted by the evidence, it was clear that clean air zones like these are the most effective way to cut toxic air and meaningfully protect people's health," London Mayor Sadiq Khan said

"In a few short years, the ULEZ has prevented tens of thousands of [metric tons] of toxic nitrogen oxide emissions from being released and the London-wide expansion is enabling 5 million more Londoners to breathe cleaner air."

The success of London's ULEZ has also helped other major cities adopt the idea of a low-emission zone. Portland, Oregon, recently announced plans to create a zone in its downtown where delivery trucks are prohibited.

Stockholm, Sweden, recently became the first European capital to completely ban diesel and petrol cars from entering the city center, per the Guardian. "Nowadays, the air in Stockholm causes babies to have lung conditions and the elderly to die prematurely. We need to eliminate the harmful exhaust gases from petrol and diesel cars," Stockholm's vice mayor for transport Lars Stromgren said.

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