London schools to extend air quality audit programme

Five of London’s most polluted boroughs - Newham, Islington, Southwark, Westminster and Brent - have will be extending the Mayor of London’s air quality audit programme to help cut pollution in their schools.

Under the Mayor’s scheme, detailed air quality audits were carried out in 50 schools across 23 London boroughs. The audits assessed the air quality in some of the capital’s worst polluted schools and made a series of recommendations to protect pupils. As part of the programme the Mayor issued a £1 million fund which provided each of the 50 audited schools with a £10,000 starter grant and enabled any of the other London schools located in areas exceeding legal air pollution limits to apply for green infrastructure funding.

Newham council is extending air quality audits to all primary and secondary schools in the borough as part of a long term air quality monitoring study. The monitoring will help target clean air initiatives which currently includes a ‘Healthy School Streets’ programme and ‘anti-idling’ campaigns – both supported by the Mayor.  

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: "London's toxic air is directly harming the health of our children. Working with boroughs like Newham we are determined to do everything in our power to protect them and ensure future generations breathe cleaner, healthier air."

Islington Council has committed to all primary state run schools to be audited by April 2022 (47 primary schools in total) and audits are underway.

Southwark Council intends to start air pollution audits in schools later this year. It is anticipated that all primary and secondary schools maintained by the council that are over the NO2 legal limit (based on 2016 modelled data) will be audited as well as every school in the Old Kent opportunity area. Private schools will have the opportunity to conduct an audit too making it 72 schools in total.

Westminster has committed to ensure every education establishment (with the age ranges of 5 to 18 years old) are provided an Air Quality Audit. They have also allocated £1m of funding over four years to help primary schools after they have completed an air quality audit and received the report. Local authority schools, free schools and academies can apply for up to £10,000 each, and private schools can apply for up to £5,000. The money can be spent on building and highway improvements outside school and green infrastructure. Further info

Brent Council has since developed the ‘Breathe clean’ project, which has helped to raise awareness of poor air quality at most infant and primary schools in the borough, including an air quality presentation and NO2 diffusion tubes. A report will be published soon to find out where the air quality hotspots are so the council can take targeted audits and interventions at those schools.

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