Deprived and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) schoolchildren are exposed to greater levels of air pollution in London, according to a new report published by the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF).
New data from the Breathe London pilot project allowed the researchers to look at the estimated level of nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution at every London state primary school in 2019.
The research revealed that air pollution does not affect all schoolchildren equally, with children from deprived neighbourhoods exposed to more pollution.
When examining the deprivation level (a measure that incorporates a broad range of living conditions, including income, health and access to resources), the researchers found that average NOx levels at schools with pupils attending from the most deprived areas were 27% higher than those at schools with pupils attending from the least deprived areas.
We researchers also found that white students are exposed to less pollution at school.
Using census data to estimate the proportion of students of BAME background at each school, the results revealed that schools with the highest percentage of non-white pupils have average NOx levels that are 28% higher than schools with the lowest proportion of BAME students.
By looking at the rise and fall of schools’ NOx levels over the course of a day, we see that pollution peaks around 7-9 am, with 50% of the pollution comes from vehicles during these morning hours. This is when children are typically travelling to school and more likely to be exposed to pollution.
Oliver Lord, Head of Policy and Campaigns, Environmental Defense Fund Europe, said: ‘The health burden of air pollution is not equal.
‘Our analysis shows children from a BAME background or the most deprived areas in London experience significantly higher levels of toxic pollution at school. This inequity will affect them for the rest of their lives. We need strong leadership to ensure our schools become a catalyst for less polluted streets and healthier children.’
In related news, Air Quality News presents exclusive data highlighting the connection between air pollution and deprivation
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