The Mayor of London’s Environment advisor warned (1) that children should be kept out the playground during bad pollution episodes, as research (2) shows that exposure to pollution during children’s crucial years of development can lead to permanent damage. There are 2,270 London schools within 400m of a road carrying more than 10,000 vehicles a day.
Jenny Jones said:
“Warnings and advice are welcome, but what London’s parents want is urgent action. The Mayor should at the very least make available sufficient funds for all schools in pollution hotspots to take measures to cut their pollution exposure.”
Knowing that pollution can permanently damage children’s lungs, the Mayor cannot continue to dither and delay in putting out regular pollution warnings to alert schools and vulnerable people with respiratory problems”
“Boosting the Clean Air Fund (3,4) will help schools identify their pollution exposure and enable them to take measures to reduce children’s exposure, within the school and through their travel choices”
Possible measures for schools include: (5,6)
- No engine idling campaigns outside schools
- Awareness of high pollution episodes so vulnerable pupils can be alerted and limit times they spend outdoors
- School travel plans that avoid pollution exposure
- Where possible locate outdoor play areas away from perimeter areas and traffic pollution
- Green roofs and plants to cut airbourne particulates
- Low energy ventilation systems to ensure fresh air within school buildings
1) Mathew Pencharz interview on LBC, 27 February 2013. He said: “Areas of high smog, which do happen now and again because of climatic conditions, it may be sensible for the children not to be in the playground then, but I have to say that to start saying that children shouldn’t be allowed outside, I think that is a little unreasonable.”
2) Prof Frank Kelly from Kings College University research shows a strong association between pollution exposure during crucial years of development and permanently smaller lungs. LBC, 27 February 2013.
3) Jenny Jones AM’s question to the Mayor: http://mqt.london.gov.uk/mqt/public/question.do?id=44309 Boris Johnson reported that in the Clean Air Fund for 2012/13 £100,000 had been allocated for the School Clean Air Zones project.
4) Jenny Jones has made a recommendation to the Mayor of London to spend £800,000 on his Mayor’s Schools pollution programme in 2013/14. This is part of the Green Party Group budget amendment to the Mayor’s proposed budget for 2013/14. http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/green_group_budget_amendment_2013_14.pdf
5) Cleaner Air 4 School Toolkit – includes information about air pollution, and practical information to reduce exposure to air pollution.
6) Cleaner Air 4 Schools Programme educates schools about what they can do to reduce their impact and protect themselves from health risks caused by pollution. This programme is part of the Mayor’s ‘Clean Air Fund’ http://www.london.gov.uk/cleanairschools