No London school to be exposed to illegal levels of air pollution by 2025

A new report commissioned by City Hall predicts that as a result of the Mayor of London’s action to improve air quality, no schools in the capital will be exposed to illegally high levels of air pollution by 2025.

The report, which was carried out by air quality and climate change emissions consultants Aether, found that the number of primary schools in areas exceeding legal limits for harmful NO2 is projected to drop dramatically from 371 in 2013 to just four in 2020.

The number of secondary schools is expected to fall from 82 in 2013 to only one in 2020, with no schools at all in high polluting NO2 areas by 2025.  

A previous Aether study found of the schools in the highest polluting areas of London around 80 per cent were defined as being ‘deprived’.  

The research reveals children from some of the poorest backgrounds will benefit the most from the Mayor’s bold measures to tackle air quality.

Alastair Harper, Head of Advocacy at Unicef UK, said: “No child should be forced to breathe air that could damage their body and impact their future. For those living in areas of deprivation who already face a myriad of social and health issues, toxic air is particularly harmful.
“With mounting evidence of children’s vulnerability to air pollution, it’s encouraging to see this has been acknowledged and acted on by the Mayor of London. It is vital that other UK cities also prioritise this issue. Unicef UK stands firmly behind initiatives to tackle air pollution and its impact on children’s health. The new Clean Air Strategy will be a crucial opportunity for the Government to make a national commitment to clean up the air and prioritise action for children.”

Measures to improve air quality in London include the Ultra Low Emission Zone, launching in the central London congestion zone on 8 April and expanding to the North and South circular in October 2021. It will play a significant part in achieving these improvements by removing the most polluting vehicles from the areas of poorest air quality.

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