Around a quarter of all morning, rush-hour car trips during school term time comprise school run traffic, increasing emissions outside schools. A clean air program implemented by the London Borough of Hackney, pioneer of School Streets and one of the leading community grassroots initiatives proactively tackling air pollution, shows the significant improvements that can be made through these programs. The first four School Streets launched in the borough showed that traffic reduced by an average of 68%, the number of children cycling to school increased by 51%, and vehicle emissions outside schools (NOx, PM10 and PM2.5) are down by 74% as a result of the schemes .
“Local authorities must take advantage of free tools such as the Clean Air for Schools Framework, as the analysis by Queen Mary University of London shows, air pollution impacts the daily lives of so many children,” said Chris Large, Co-CEO at Global Action Plan. “But they must act now. Therefore, protecting today’s generation of school children against the toxins carried by air pollution is not only imperative to preventing damage to children’s daily health but also to reduce the impact of this and future pandemics.”
“As school children continue to settle into classrooms this autumn, we have a once in a generation opportunity to tackle poor air quality head-on,” said Mark Leftwich, Director Personal Health, Philips UK and Ireland. “It is vital we take immediate action to protect public health from significant future health crises, which ongoing research shows can be worsened by air pollution in a patient with underlying respiratory issues. Setting long-term targets for emissions is welcome, but we cannot wait another 20 or 30 years for proposed targets to take effect. Doing so would compromise the health of the most vulnerable communities for decades to come – which crucially includes our children.”