Children in London four times more likely to go to school in a polluted area

New analysis for the Mayor of London suggests that children in London are four times more likely to go to school in areas with high levels pollution levels that exceed World Health Organisation limits, than children in the rest of England.

The City Hall report says this poor air quality stunts the growth of children’s lungs and worsens chronic illnesses, such as asthma, lung and heart disease. This new analysis has also found 3.1m English children are attending schools in areas exceeding WHO limits for PM2.5.

It says there are two main air pollutants of concern in London, based on their impact on human health: nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM2.5). “While the Mayor’s bold actions have led to a substantial reduction in the number of Londoners living in areas exceeding legal limits for NOand significant reductions in the levels of PM2.5, tens of thousands of Londoners still breathe polluted air and 99 per cent of Londoners live in areas exceeding the WHO recommended guidelines for PM2.5, which are much stricter than the legal standards,” the report says.

It says the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone up to the North and South Circular roads in October this year is “not only vital to achieving compliance with legal limits for air pollution but is also a key step towards meeting the more stringent health-driven World Health Organisation guidelines for toxic particulate pollution by 2030. With the expansion of the ULEZ and tightening of the Low Emission Zone for heavy vehicles earlier this year, tougher emission standards will reduce PM2.5 exhaust emissions by 35 per cent in inner London.”

“For too long it has been accepted that children growing up in London will breathe more polluted air than their friends and family outside this great city,” said Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. “But I don’t accept this. I’m doing everything in my power to stop young Londoners breathing air so filthy that it damages their lungs and causes thousands of premature deaths every year. This is why I’m expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone later this year.

“I want to make sure all of London meets the World Health Organization limits for particulate matter. But I can’t do it alone and I want to work with Government to achieve this goal. That’s why I’m asking for the new Environment Bill to include legally binding WHO recommended limits to be achieved by 2030. We can’t sleep walk from the health crisis of COVID back into complacency over the major impact of toxic air on everyone’s health.”

(Picture – Yay Images)

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