Millions of British children attend schools where air pollution is worse than the World Health Organization limit, activists said.
One analysis found that more than a quarter of schools, from kindergartens to sixth-grade colleges, were in places with high levels of small particle pollution. This means an estimated 3.4 million children are learning in an unhealthy environment, he said. Global action plan (Gap), the charity behind the research that was published in Clean Air Day Thursday.
The tiny particles of pollution, called PM2.5, are particularly dangerous as they not only damage the lungs, but can pass into the bloodstream and affect many other parts of the body. Developing bodies are especially vulnerable, and dirty air has already been linked to an increase in asthma, obesity, and mental disorders in children.
“Schools should be safe places of learning, not places where students are at risk of health risks,” said Dr. Maria Neira, director of the World Health Organization. “These figures are unequivocally too high and harm the health of children. There is no safe level of air pollution, and if we care about our children and their futures, air pollution limits must reflect WHO guidelines. “
One second report Experts from the University of Manchester also highlighted the danger to children’s health from air pollution, which they said has recently been linked to the rise in cognitive impairments, including ADHD.
Professor Martie Van Tongeren said urgent action is needed to reduce pollution and prevent cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases in young people: “Children face a considerably higher risk of neurological impacts from air pollutants. These can be transferred to the bloodstream in the lungs and travel to other parts of the body, including the brain, or they can travel directly to the brain through the olfactory nerve in the nose. “
The largest number of contaminated schools identified in the Gap analysis are in the populous London and South East regions. But there are polluted schools across the country, with nearly 300 in Manchester postcodes M1 to M9 and in Portsmouth postcodes PO1 to PO9. There are also more than 200 such schools in the first nine Leicester and Ipswich zip codes.
The analysis combined 2019 data from air quality company EarthSense with school locations in England, Scotland and Wales. Air pollution fell during the Covid-19 shutdowns, but is expected to largely revert to previous levels.
The research found that almost 8,000 schools are in locations above the WHO average annual limit for PM2.5 of 10 µg / m3; the UK legal limit is 25 μg / m3. In April, the coroner who discovered air pollution was the cause of 9-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s death in 2013 said the UK limit should be lowered to the WHO level. The WHO limit was set in 2005, but may be lowered further in new guidelines planned for September. New Scientist reported on Wednesday.
PM2.5 particles are produced by traffic, wood stoves, and farm emissions. In its Clean Air Strategy 2019The government said: “We will reduce PM2.5 concentrations across the UK, so that the number of people living in places above the WHO guidance level will be reduced by 50% by 2025.”
Gap said schools, parents and children can pressure local and national politicians to take action, as well as walk or bike to school whenever possible.
Sarah Hannafin of the National Association of Teacher Directors said: “The impact of the pandemic on children has been enormous; we have to do everything we can to make sure we safeguard their future. A critical way to do this is to ensure that they return to a safe, clean and healthy environment where they can learn, play and thrive. “
A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “Emissions of fine particles have been reduced by 11% [since 2010]. However, we know that there is more to do. We continue to deliver a £ 3.8 billion plan to clean up transport and tackle NO2 pollution. “A consultation on new targets for PM2.5 and other pollutants will be launched early next year, he said, with the aim of setting new targets. in the legislation for October 2022.
In September, investigate commissioned by Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation said many schools were in areas with dangerously high levels of particulate pollution.
The Guardian revealed in 2017 that thousands of schools in England and Wales were in locations with illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced by diesel vehicles. NO2 levels have been illegally high in most urban areas since 2010 and the government has lost three times in court over the adequacy of its plans to reduce pollution levels.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism