London Liberal Democrats have said that existing measures to protect schoolchildren from the effects of air pollution are not working
A Liberal Democrat Member of the London Assembly has criticised the air pollution forecast system airTEXT, claiming that it is not sufficient to help protect London residents against pollution.
The comments follow a survey carried out by London Liberal Democrats of the 935 schools in the capital that are situated within 150 metres of a busy road. The survey revealed that just 2% of the schools canvassed were aware of the airTEXT service – which provides free air pollution updates for the city.
Assembly Member Stephen Knight claims that the results are contrary to the Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s claim that the airTEXT service provides an adequate pollution alert service to residents. The scheme is part funded by the London boroughs, Slough borough council, the Greater London Authority, Environment Agency and Health Protection Agency
The survey also found that only 5% of schools were aware of the ‘Cleaner Air 4 Schools’ education programme, run by the Greater London Authority, which aims to raise awareness of air pollution in and around schools.
London Lib Dems have now called on the Mayor to launch a new air quality awareness campaign across all of London’s schools and expand the Cleaner Air 4 Schools education programme. They have also called for wider publicity to promote awareness of air quality alert systems, including airTEXT and the London Air Quality Network mobile phone app.
Commenting on the findings, Mr Knight, said: “At present only feeble steps are being taken by the Mayor to inform Londoners about air pollution. The Mayor’s claim that the airText provides an adequate service to help vulnerable Londoners is totally demolished by the results of this survey.
“We should never forget that children are at great risk form air pollution because of their smaller lung capacity, and their height which means that they are often closer than adults to tail pipe exhaust emissions from vehicles.
“We should of course be tackling air pollution at its source. However, until significant improvements are made in reducing the high levels of air pollution in our capital we need to ensure that every vulnerable person is aware of days when air pollution is at peak levels so that at least some steps can be taken to avoid excessive exposure to air pollution.â€?