43 per cent of children worried about air pollution

A YouGov poll, carried out for Sustrans, has revealed that 43 per cent of children living in urban areas are concerned about the levels of air pollution near their school.

The walking and cycling charity found that 38 per cent of pupils surveyed believe that encouraging more people to cycle or walk to school is key in helping to reduce levels of air pollution. A further 16 per cent think that reducing the number of journeys taken by car would play the greatest role.

Released to launch the Big Pedal 2018, the UK’s largest schools competition to encourage more young people to cycle, walk and scoot to school, the survey also revealed that the number of children concerned about air pollution rose to over half in London (53 per cent) and that 34 per cent stated that politicians were most responsible for bringing down levels of air pollution, while 29 per cent held drivers as most accountable.

Xavier Brice, Sustrans’ CEO, said: “We’re in the midst of an air quality crisis. This survey demonstrates for the first time that children are aware and concerned about poor air quality. We wanted to hear their views on the matter, as they are some of the most susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution, which can lead to poor lung and brain development and asthma if exposed for long periods of time at a young age.

“More needs to be done to improve air quality near schools and help protect future generations. One of the best ways to do this, is by reducing the number of journeys taken by car each day in favour of walking, cycling or scooting the school run. The government needs to show leadership by helping local authorities fund and deliver better cycling and walking infrastructure so that every child is able to travel on foot or by bike to school in safety and with confidence. Failure to act now on high levels of air pollution has the potential to have a detrimental impact on children’s health.”

Photo caption: More than 240 children on bikes and scooters led by world record breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont have created a clean air route to school calling for better air around school gates. Torkington Primary School in Stockport is one of the 1,550 schools taking part in Sustrans Big Pedal, the UK’s largest cycling and scooting competition for children and young people launching this week.

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