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Primary school children sing for clean air

‘I Like Clean Air’ campaigns against dangerous levels of pollution around schools 

Schoolchildren today highlighted poor air quality levels near their school in Hackney by singing an anti-pollution song to MPs at Westminster.

Thirty children from the Gayhurst Community primary school in Hackney performed the song in support of the British Lung Foundation’s (BLF) demand for monitoring of air quality around schools.

MP Meg Hillier with the children from Gayhurst Community primary school

MP Meg Hillier with the children from Gayhurst Community primary school

The BLF is working in partnership with the choir, demonstrating to politicians that harmful pollution exists across many parts of the UK.

Some 3,000 schools across the UK are located in areas with high levels of air pollution, according to a report by DEFRA, published last year. Very few schools have air pollution monitors around them.

The young singers are members of the ‘I Like Clean Air’ campaign, which was formed by parents in September 2014, concerned about the impact of poor air quality on children.

Parents worked with ClientEarth to measure pollution levels in playgrounds and streets in South Hackney. Fifty-five diffusion tubes were installed, and within four weeks 26 out of 55 locations breached the legal limits.

The children’s ‘I Like Clean Air’ song revolves around the children’s love for their ‘area postcode’ and the negative impact pollution has on their city and health.

MP

Labour MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, Meg Hillier, sponsored the parliamentary performance.

She told airqualitynews.com: “From a political perspective, this teaches the children how to run an effective campaign. It teaches them that their voice counts. One in four residents in Hackney are under the age of 16 – their voice matters.

“Children are the worst affected by air pollution. Asthma rates are rising. We currently have illegal levels of air pollution and that needs to be addressed. We have laws for a reason, and they need to be enforced.

“Air pollution is something that affects everyone and we need to take some bold decisions now if we want to see things happen.”

Parent Shazia Ali-Webber added: “At current rates, air quality won’t improve in major cities for a decade. Today’s primary children could have irreversible lung damage by then.”

Action

The BLF has meanwhile outlined the targets it wants the government to commit to in order to improve air quality in Britain.

This includes protecting children through “increased measuring, reporting and acting of air pollution”, prioritising air pollution across Government departments in order to meet legal limits by 2020, and cleaning up public transport through greener buses and taxis.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Pollutants can stunt the growth of children’s lungs and could cause lasting damage. It’s a worry for everyone, making existing lung problems worse, increasing our risk of lung cancer and early death more likely. We must all play a part in reducing harmful pollution.”

Sadiq Khan has promised to tackle air quality in the capital head on (see airqualitynews.com story) with various measures, including the extension of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), a higher charge for the most polluting vehicles entering central London and an investigation into the possibility of implementing a diesel scrappage scheme.

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