Schools all over Britain are undertaking more and more serious steps to mitigate the consequences of air pollution among their students. In the face of a growing concern about long-term negative consequences of smog to children’s development, London schools have started to install air purifiers in their classrooms and buy anti-pollution masks for their students.
Schools have also initiated educational campaigns targeting parents to encourage them to give up driving their kids to school and to choose more ecological means of transport instead. These initiatives go along with the results of new research showing the range of damage done to the health of young people, particularly breathing problems. For instance, the number of children suffering from asthma is growing dramatically.
Dr Ian Mudway, air pollution expert of King’s College London, assesses that air quality needs to be improved urgently particularly in congested cities in order to protect the wellbeing of future generations. „As the evidence base grows demonstrating that air pollution impacts on the health of children born and growing up in our cities, so the justification for decisive action increases,” he adds arguing that London schools’ actions constitute a very important initiative.
The scope of actions undertaken by London schools includes, in addition to closing off streets to traffic during the time when children come to and leave school, a number of various initiatives. For instance, the schools are planning to plant more greenery in playgrounds and near their sports fields.
Why are London schools undertaking so urgent initiatives? A stimulus for these actions was discovering that the particulate pollution levels in classrooms exceeded the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines three times over the limit. Victorian school buildings frequently lack proper ventilation, which means that harmful particles floating in the air get trapped in classrooms.
Sara Alsen from Blueair, a Swedish company that analyses air in London schools, said: ” It is clear that awareness about indoor air pollution is increasing in the UK. Every day we get calls from parents worrying about the health of their children”.