The research by King’s College London reveals for the first time the impacts of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which comes from exhaust fumes and other burning of fossil fuels, on mortality in London.
In 2010, there were 3,537 premature deaths due to particles known as particulate matter (PM2.5) and 5,879 early deaths in the capital as a result of nitrogen dioxide, bringing the total to 9,416, the study shows.
The economic costs of the air pollution are estimated to be as high as £3.7bn (€5.3bn).
The study reveals that particulate matter led to the loss of 52,630 years of life among Londoners, due to causing premature deaths, and NO2 led to 88,113 years of life lost.
London mayor Boris Johnson said the data is five years old and does not include many of the impacts of measures he had implemented to clean up the capital’s air, including hybrid buses, age limits for taxis, and tightening low emission zone standards.
The study suggests the number of deaths would have fallen in 2012 and 2015 due to projected reductions in pollution, and would fall further as a result of an “ultra low emissions zone”.
Johnson said that, with half the health effects caused by air pollutants coming from outside London and abroad, the government and EU must help to win London’s “pollution battle”.