3.1 million children in England go to school in areas with toxic levels of air pollution, according to new analysis conducted by City Hall.
According to the research, children in London are four times more likely to go to school in an area where air pollution exceeds World Health Organisation (WHO) limits.
The analysis also shows that in 2019, before the pandemic:
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: ‘For too long it has been accepted that children growing up in London will breathe more polluted air than their friends and family outside this great city.
‘But I don’t accept this. I’m doing everything in my power to stop young Londoners from breathing air so filthy that it damages their lungs and causes thousands of premature deaths every year. This is why I’m expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone later this year.
‘I want to make sure all of London meets the WHO limits for particulate matter. But I can’t do it alone and I want to work with Government to achieve this goal. That’s why I’m asking for the new Environment Bill to include legally binding WHO recommended limits to be achieved by 2030. We can’t sleep walk from the health crisis of COVID back into complacency over the major impact of toxic air on everyone’s health.’
Nick Bowes, chief executive of Centre for London commented on this research, he said: ‘Raising children in London shouldn’t damage their health but these shocking figures from City Hall show that it does.
‘Successive mayors have promised to do more to tackle this crisis but London still exceeds legal air pollution limits many times over.
‘The expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in the autumn will be a huge step, but City Hall could be bolder and adopt a pay-per-mile road user charging scheme which would deliver cleaner air, increase active travel and reduce congestion, as well as provide a substantial income stream to help plug Transport for London’s finances.
‘London also needs more devolution so that it can tackle other sources of poor air quality beyond road vehicles.’
In related news, reducing air pollution could improve a child’s ability to learn, according to new research published by Global Action Plan, the Philips Foundation and the University of Manchester.
Photo by Annie Spratt