The charity estimated that one in three children, some 4.5 million, are growing up in towns and cities in the UK with unsafe levels of particulate pollution.
Over 40 per cent said idling car engines were a concern when it came to rising levels of air pollution near schools, while 63 per cent said their school’s location on or near a busy road was a worry.
But nearly 60 per cent said a lack of alternative routes for traffic was one of the main barriers to closing roads outside schools to cars at drop-off and pick-up times.
The survey comes after a report from Public Health England (PHE) called for a raft of measures, including stopping cars idling near school gates, promoting car-pool lanes, and providing priority parking for electric cars.
Sophie Gallois, Unicef UK’s director of advocacy and communications, said: “Every day, one in three children in the UK is breathing in harmful levels of air pollution that could damage their health and impact their future.”
“Reducing children’s exposure to air pollution is not just about the school street itself, but also taking quieter routes to school, away from busy main roads.”
Sustrans CEO Xavier Brice said: “For too long now, dangerous levels of air pollution near schools have been ignored. Finally this is starting to change.
“Our survey makes it clear that teachers want urgent action to clean up toxic fumes.”
A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to driving down emissions across all modes of transport, and recognise that greener travel options are a crucial way to clean up our air.
“Just last week we announced a £23m investment to rejuvenate cycling and walking across the UK, on top of the £2bn we are investing over the course of this parliament.”
Is air pollution a problem around your school? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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