An air-quality monitor has been installed at a children’s playground in Elmhurst Gardens after a year-long campaign by a South Woodford mum.

The device was put in place on Tuesday (March 22) and will monitor levels of pollution at the playground. Among those supporting the campaign by Lydia Fraser-Ward is Redbridge councillor Rosa Gomez, who represents the Churchfields area.

She was glad to attend the installation and said: “I am deeply concerned by the effects of air pollution on health, and that is why I was so keen to support the campaign to have an air-quality monitor installed. The playground is set in lovely parkland surroundings but it is also close to the A406, which has very high levels of vehicular pollution.”

Campaigning as part of the Mums for Lungs network, Lydia Fraser-Ward secured funding last December for the monitor from Breathe London, an initiative supported by the Mayor of London.

Lydia, 40, an environmental campaigner and mum of three-year-old Ripley, lives in Woodford Green and was inspired to push for the monitor after spending many hours in the park with her autistic son during lockdown.

She said: “With a lot of help and guidance from community and environmental pressure groups such as Wanstead Climate Action Group and Mums for Lungs, and also researching the subject of pollution in London, I decided to act. There are only a few very basic diffusion tube monitors in the borough. The park is next to the North Circular road, so I was aware there could be a high level of pollution.”

After submitting a request, including a 20-minute video, for one of 10 monitors from Breathe London, Lydia won her case.

She said: “Because I cannot take my son to any indoor venues, not even cafes, we spend a lot of time in the park, and I became aware of possible problems with air quality. I am not anti-car, but I urge people to keep emissions as low as possible.”

The monitor is solar-powered and has a QR code which can be accessed to reveal levels of recorded nitrogen dioxide and ‘particulate matter’ such as dust and and dirt, both of which can damage health badly.

Cllr Gomez added: “This ward is blighted by lots of traffic. I believe all playgrounds should have air monitors, and this is something that I will continue to campaign for.”

From wheezing (one in 10 children in London has asthma) to stunted lungs, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiac issues in later life, the lives of 40,000 Londoners are cut short every year as a result of an illness that is exacerbated by air pollution.

“Local authorities, including the GLA and borough councils, are able to reduce air pollution locally by using their powers to reduce road transport, to raise awareness of air pollution, and by encouraging residents and businesses to change their behaviour.”