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Wednesday, 23 January

Drawing Conclusions Via Air Quality Audits

Crayola

20 nurseries in some of London’s most polluted areas are to receive new indoor and outdoor air quality audits to identify measures to reduce children’s exposure to toxic air pollution.

The audits will target sources of pollution, with five of the 20 nurseries trialling new air filtration systems to test their effectiveness at reducing indoor pollution. They will focus on reducing NO2, PM10 and PM 2.5 as research shows children exposed to these smaller pollution particles and gases are more likely to grow up with lung problems and to develop asthma.

The new scheme follows 50 successful audits that were delivered to primary schools earlier this year, which have already led to some schools taking action to close roads, upgrade their boilers, tackle engine idling and promote car-sharing schemes.

 

Study

A recent study by University College London and the University of Cambridge, funded by the Mayor of London's Office, found that indoor air pollution was significantly higher inside classrooms due to a range of factors including the age of buildings, ventilation, positioning of windows, and wall-to-wall carpeting.  

The findings suggested that the protection offered by the building increased the further away it was from the busiest roads and that airtight buildings may offer greater protection against pollution. The report also found that, in most classrooms, annual exposure to small particles was higher than recommended World Health Organization guidelines - and that this was caused by a combination of indoor and outdoor sources. 

 

Emissions

The impact of outdoor air pollution on indoor air quality underlines the importance of the hard-hitting measures proposed to tackle London’s toxic air, including introducing the 24-hour Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London and cleaning up the bus fleet.  

 

Interventions

The audits will also review a range of methods to reduce pollution outside nurseries, including restricting road access outside entrances at drop off and collection times, moving playgrounds away from congested roads, installing green ‘pollution barrier’ hedges, tackling engine idling and promoting cycling and walking. 

 

WSP

The £250,000 programme is funded as part of the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund and audits will be conducted by global engineering consultancy WSP, who will the lead up to Christmas in the nurseries, assessing indoor and outdoor air pollution sources, looking at how children travel to the nurseries and reviewing local walking routes including traffic crossings. These will herald the first City Hall trials of indoor filtration, beginning in spring 2019, with results expected later in the year, alongside a toolkit that can be given to all non-participating nurseries so they can conduct their own audits.

 

Clean Air and Environment Act

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “It is high time the Government stepped up and delivered a new Clean Air and Environment Act and introduced the scrappage scheme we need to remove the dirtiest vehicles off our streets once and for all.”

 

Vulnerable

Dr Simon Lenton, representative of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said: "The adverse impact on health of air pollution is now well established in adults. Infants and children are more vulnerable as their lungs and brains are still developing. Children and infants spend many hours in nursery or at school and it is imperative we know what air pollutants they are exposed to and then take action to ensure the air they breathe is as pure as possible. This is particularly important in proximity to high traffic density and close to industrial areas."

Picture: With thanks to Crayola

 

Further Reading

The Lancet research showing children exposed to smaller pollution particles and NO2 are more likely to grow up with reduced lung function - Click Here

The study by University College London and the University of Cambridge, funded by the Mayor, investigating the level of indoor air pollution in London’s schools - Click Here

 

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

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