Tuesday November 12, 2019

Children at 800 Schools, Nurseries and Colleges in London being exposed to illegal levels of Air Pollution: Report

The study, commissioned by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, suggests thousands more children and young people are at risk from toxic air than previously thought

School children, Wikimedia

London, Feb 25, 2017:  Tens of thousands of children at over 800 schools, nurseries and colleges in London are being exposed to illegal levels of air pollution that risk causing lifelong health problems, a media report said on Saturday.

A study identified 802 educational institutions where pupils as young as three are being exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide that breach European Union (EU) legal limits and which the government accepts are harmful to health, the Guardian said in the report.

The study, commissioned by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, suggests thousands more children and young people are at risk from toxic air than previously thought.

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Khan said the results were devastating and warned that it was the capital’s poorest children who were bearing the brunt of the air pollution crisis.

“It is an outrage that more than 800 schools, nurseries and other educational institutions are in areas breaching legal air pollution limits,” he said.

“This is an environmental challenge, a public health challenge but also – and no one talks about this – it is fundamentally an issue of social justice. If you are a poor Londoner you are more likely to suffer from illegal air.”

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Khan called for the government to introduce a clean air act and for a diesel scrappage scheme to take polluting cars off the road quickly, the Guardian report added.

The study shows 802 out of 3,261 nurseries, primary and secondary schools and higher education colleges, are within 150 metres of nitrogen dioxide pollution levels that exceed the EU legal limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

A third of state nursery schools in the capital (27), nearly 20 per cent of primaries (360) and 18 per cent of secondary schools (79) are in areas where toxic levels of nitrogen dioxide threaten children’s health.

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Of the further education colleges in the capital, 43 per cent (30) were in areas of illegally toxic levels of nitrogen dioxide.

The study, based on modelling of data from 2013, was carried out by experts from the environmental research group at King’s College London and Aether, the environmental data analysts. (IANS)

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Toxicity in Air Affects Children’s Brain Development: UNICEF

UNICEF has warned that air pollution affects a child's brain development

Brain Development
According to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, air pollution toxicity can affect children's brain development. Pixabay

Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore has warned that air pollution toxicity can affect children’s brain development and called for urgent action to deal with the crisis gripping India and South Asia.

“I saw first-hand how children continue to suffer from the dire consequences of air pollution,” Fore, who recently visited India, said on Wednesday.

“The air quality was at a crisis level. You could smell the toxic fog even from behind an air filtration mask,” she added.

Air pollution affects children most severely and its effects continue all their lives because they have smaller lungs, breathe twice as fast as adults and lack immunities, Fore said.

Brain Development
Air pollution damages brain tissue and undermines brain development in babies and young children. Pixabay

She added that it “damages brain tissue and undermines cognitive development in babies and young children, leading to lifelong consequences that can affect their learning outcomes and future potential. There is evidence to suggest that adolescents exposed to higher levels of air pollution are more likely to experience mental health problems”.

“Unicef is calling for urgent action to address this air quality crisis,” affecting 620 million children in South Asia.

Also Read- Snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir to Help Bring Pollution Down in Neighbouring States

Schools were closed in Delhi till Tuesday because of the severe environmental situation caused by post-harvest burning of stubble in neighbouring states.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Sunday touched 625, considered “severe plus” level. (IANS)