Majority of UK schools exceed safe air pollution levels, according to latest #LetSchoolsBreath project

A high number (97%)of UK schools monitored by Airly in the #LetSchoolsBreathe project experienced levels of PM2.5 that exceeded the safe norms set out by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The research found that 35 out of 36 schools experienced unsafe levels of PM2.5, while the safe annual norm for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) was exceeded at 65% of schools.

Airly started installing air pollution sensors in schools across the UK in April 2021 to help children and parents understand more about air pollution levels.

The sensors monitored air quality 24 hours a day in the immediate vicinity of 36 schools based in 9 UK cities, reports Air Quality News.

The cleantech platform today published the results this monitoring, as part of the UK #LetSchoolsBreathe campaign.

Every school studied experienced exceedances of daily norms for NO2 and PM2.5. For 50% of schools, these daily norms were exceeded every other day, while the remaining schools experienced exceedances every third day.

“Pupils are exposed to high concentrations of NO2 and PM2.5 mainly during travel to school and in school playgrounds. Airly’s outdoor monitors have been positioned in such a way as to be able to determine what kind of air students breathe when they are near the school building,” said Marcin Gnat, spokesperson for Airly.

“Thanks to the data we have collected, we know the situation is far from perfect, but the first step towards pollution-free schools has been made. This step is to make air pollution a topic for discussion among school communities, having the necessary knowledge and understanding of the causes of pollution and its impact on health, we give hope to the young generation into a world with cleaner and healthy air.”

The highest concentrations of NO2 occurred during the morning and afternoon, strictly correlated with traffic patterns at times when the pupils are entering and exiting the school.

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