‘Toxic air is poisoning our children’ – new guidance issued to schools

The Tes reports that the National Education Union and the British Lung Foundation have teamed up to publish a guide to help schools deal with air pollution, which is believed to cause 40,000 early deaths in the UK every year.

According to research by Greenpeace from April, more than 2,000 schools and nurseries across the country are located close to roads with illegal levels of pollution.

The NEU and British Lung Foundation said that with the law requiring school employers to protect pupils against risk to their health, schools should have a policy on reducing the threat from air pollution.

Key elements of their new guidance include:

  • Encouraging schools to create action plans to protect pupils’ health. This includes installing air pollution monitors to show when toxic air is worst, in order to help make decisions about outside PE lessons and monitor vulnerable pupils with underlying health conditions.
  • Recommending the introduction of travel plans to reduce the danger of air pollution around schools. This could include car sharing, safe walking routes away from main roads, making sure there is sufficient parking for scooters and bikes, discouraging car parking outside the school gates and asking parents arriving in cars to turn off their engines.
  • Reminding parents that children in buggies are at greater risk, due to their proximity to vehicle exhaust pipes.
  • Linking air pollution and its impact to the national curriculum in science, PHSE, English and geography.

Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said that only a third of local authorities are currently monitoring pollution levels outside schools. “This isn’t good enough,” she said. “Toxic air is poisoning our children.”

Young people breathing high levels of air pollution over a long period are at risk of their lungs not growing properly, repeated infections, coughs and wheezing, and developing asthma or seeing their asthma get worse.

Read more ‘Toxic air is poisoning our children’ – new guidance issued to schools

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