London has already breached annual legal air pollution limits just five days into 2017


London has broken its annual air pollution limits just five days into the New Year, according to new figures.

Brixton Road, Lambeth has claimed the "dubious honour" of being the first air quality monitoring site to see levels of pollutant nitrogen dioxide exceed the annual hourly limits less than a week into the new year.

European Union limits demand that maximum hourly concentrations of toxic nitrogen dioxide, which is mostly caused by road traffic in towns and cities, are not exceeded for more than 18 hours a year.

The law states hourly levels of NO2 must not be more than 200 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3).

(John Walton/PA)

Monitoring by the London Air project from King's College, London, showed that the rules had been breached by 9pm on Thursday for the pollutant, which is linked to heart and lung problems and even early deaths.

Other London roads are expected to exceed the limits shortly with Oxford Street, Kings Road in Chelsea and the Strand all known to be pollution hotspots.

NO2 pollution, which comes mostly from diesel vehicles, causes close to 6,000 early deaths in the capital every year.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has promised a bigger ultra-low emission zone in 2019, and to deploy the cleanest buses on the most polluted roads.