Air quality audits to protect schoolchildren

The Mayor of London has announced the first of 50 ‘air quality audits’ for primary schools in the worst polluted areas in London.

As part of Sadiq Khan’s plans to tackle air quality, the aunts will identify measures to protect pupils’ health from toxic air.

They will also examine new ways to reduce emissions and exposure to pollution in and around schools.

The audits, funded by £250,000 from the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund and conduced by global engineering consultancy WSP, will be complete by the end of 2017, with reports ready by March next year.

Audit recommendations could include: moving school entrances and play areas to reduce exposure to busy roads; ’no engine idling’ schemes to reduce harmful emissions during school runs’ minimising emissions from boilers, kitchens and other sources; changes to local roads, including improved road layouts, restricting the most polluting vehicles around schools and pedestrianisation around school entrances; green infrastructure such as ‘barrier bushes’ to help filter toxic fumes; and improvements to encourage walking and cycling to school along less polluted routes.

The 50 schools to be audited are part of a pilot which the Mayor hopes boroughs will adopt if successful.

Khan made the announcement as he met pupils from Prior Weston Primary School, the first school to be audited.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “It is shameful that children across London are breathing in toxic air simply by going to and from school and I am determined to do everything in my power to safeguard their health.

“These air quality audits are a big step towards helping some of the most polluted schools in London identify effective solutions to protect pupils from toxic fumes but, of course, this is only part of the solution.

“Next month, I will be launching my T-charge to rid central London of the oldest, most polluting vehicles and before the end of the year I will be announcing a decision on my plans to bring forward and extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone along some of our busiest roads.

“We are making great strides in London but I can’t do this alone. The government must match my ambition in tackling the biggest public health emergency of a generation.”

Glenn Higgs, associate director at WSP, said: “Air quality in London is a major challenge and we need to better understand what causes it at a local level. The audits will enable us to recommend the best steps to reduce air pollution for the benefit of schoolchildren and their community.

“WSP works with local authorities across the UK on air quality and we hope that this audit will provide inspiration to others to best understand how they can reduce pollution levels.”

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