Tangible changes schools can make to reduce air pollution

The University of Surrey has published a new guidance booklet outlining tangible steps that schools can take to improve air quality in and around their premises. 

Children who are exposed to air pollution are more likely to suffer from short and long-term health conditions, such as asthma, bronchitis and stunted lung development. 

With children beginning to return to school this week (June 1), researchers from the Global Centre for Clean Air Research at the University of Surrey have published a list of ten recommendations to help schools maintain the reduced air pollution that has been seen during lockdown. 

The recommendations include passive measures, such as planting green barriers or hedges between the school premises and nearby roads.

The guidance also suggests active measures, for example, creating a clean air zone around schools, creating anti-idling campaigns and moving pick-up/drop-off points away from the school entrance. 

The researchers have also encouraged teachers to highlight the numerous benefits of walking to/from. From improved physical and mental wellbeing, enhanced social skills, and reduced traffic. 

The document highlights the importance of indoor classroom air quality, with poor air quality being linked to poor concentration and learning and behavioural issues. Therefore the researchers suggest that schools can restrict the number of doors and windows that are open during pick-up and drop-off times.

Finally, the document highlights that by embedding air pollution issues into the curriculum it will help to educate children on the importance of this issue. 

Professor Prashant Kumar, Director of GCARE at the University of Surrey, said: ‘Nothing is more important than the health and wellbeing of our children and my experience tells me that there are some real health risks, caused by air pollution, in and around many of the schools in our country.

‘In our new guidance booklet, we set out to give schools, parents and local communities actionable advice which we believe will make a significant, positive impact on the quality of the air that our children breathe on school days.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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