Air filters in London schools to provide cleaner air for children

200 of London's most polluted schools are to have air filters installed in a bid to protect children's health.

Later this year, PM2.5 filters will be fitted in every classroom in the chosen schools.

If the pilot is successful, it could be expanded to every school in London.

£2.7 million of funding has been allocated from the Mayor's 2024/25 budget, which the London Assembly is due to vote on on Thursday. The money is to pay for the filters themselves as well as school engagement, educational materials, monitoring the impact of the programme and maintenance of the filters.

Previous measures have already helped to cut the number of educational establishments with illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution by 94 per cent – from 793 schools in 2016 to 50 in 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available).

With further action, all educational establishments are estimated to be legally compliant with the NO2 annual mean UK limit by 2025. However, most schools in London still exceed the World Health Organization interim guideline for particulate matter pollution (PM2.5).

A project is due to be completed in May which is researching the best type of air filter that will be used.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am doing everything in my power to stop Londoners breathing filthy poisonous air. We know that the impact of pollution on young people’s health can be particularly acute, causing lasting damage to children’s lungs.  

“Since I first became Mayor, there has been a significant reduction in the number of schools in areas which exceed the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide, but we need to make progress even further and faster.

“Alongside parents and teachers, I want every single child to breathe clean air in and around their school. In those vital early years, the difference to young people’s health and wellbeing can be lifechanging.”

Daniel Kebede, general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “This is a forward-thinking commitment from the Mayor of London which will be of massive benefit to pupils and staff in London schools and an example that should be taken up more widely across the country. High levels of pollution and bad air quality are severely impacting on the health of young people, often causing damage that will last throughout their lifetime. The introduction of air filters in classrooms across London will ensure that the air in our schools is healthy for children to breathe, and create an environment in which it is fit for pupils to learn.”

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