‘I was horrified that children are breathing air this dirty inside the school’

Headteacher Gwen Lee had not expected the results to be good but had been unprepared for what the air pollution engineer found. Levels of dangerous particulate pollution exceeded WHO guidelines in every classroom of the school – and two were more than three times over the limit. The Guardian reports.

“We have long been aware of air pollution as a problem but I was horrified that the children were breathing in air that was this dirty inside the school,” said Lee, headteacher at Christopher Hatton primary school in Holborn, London.

The school nestles between two of London’s busiest roads and was one of 50 schools identified as the most polluted in the city by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

“The idea that children are being exposed to this level of air pollution as they are trying to learn – with all the known health implications that go with that – is simply unacceptable,” said Lee.

It found that all the classrooms exceeded external WHO guidelines for one of the most dangerous particulate pollutants – PM10. Two of the classrooms recorded levels more than three times the WHO yearly average limit of of 20μg/m3 and one – the nursery – recorded a staggering figure of 546μg/m3, more than 27 times the WHO average annual limit.

She said there had been some building work going on in the nursery at the time which could partially explain that figure, but added the fact that every classroom was over the WHO limit – and three by so much – was deeply worrying.

The measurements were taken by Swedish company BlueAir after it had been contacted by one of the parents at the school who used the company’s purifiers at home to help their child who suffers from asthma.

The school had already been trialling one air purifier and parents had been trying – unsuccessfully – to raise enough money to get more. But when the scale of the problem was flagged up to Blue Air the company agreed to donate nine units, sending an engineer over in August to test the particulate levels inside the classroom before they were fitted.

Read more ‘I was horrified that children are breathing air this dirty inside the school’

Do you think the the air pollution around your school exceeds the WHO limits? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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