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Thursday, May 09, 2019

How air pollution is poisoning our children

There is a disturbing article in The Times today, which reveals that millions of children attend schools in Britain with dangerous levels of air pollution. They say that about 6,500 schools educating 2.6 million children are in areas where fine particles in the air exceed the World Health Organisation recommended limit of 10mcg per cubic metre:

Fine particles, known as PM2.5, are the most dangerous form of air pollution because their microscopic size allows them to penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.

Every school in London is over the WHO limit. Some 234 schools in Birmingham exceed it, as well as more than 100 in large cities like Leicester and Nottingham.

The total includes 3,900 nursery and primary schools, where the younger children are most vulnerable to air pollution because their lungs are developing and their relative size means they are closer to vehicle exhaust emissions.

The Times is launching a campaign for a new Clean Air Act, which would give everyone the right to be protected from toxic air that contributes to 40,000 deaths a year and particularly threatens the young, the elderly and people with lung conditions:

The government claimed to be tackling air pollution under a clean air strategy published in January, but analysis of official projections reveals that almost 4,700 schools with 1.9 million pupils will still be over the limit by 2030.

The strategy included a target of halving the number of people living in areas above the WHO limit by 2025 but did not give the baseline for the target and did not set a clear plan for achieving it. Close inspection of government projections on air quality by The Times shows that, despite gradual improvements in recent years, more than nine million people will still be living in areas above the limit in six years from now.

Michael Gove, the environment secretary, also promised in January to set “a new, ambitious, long-term target to reduce people’s exposure to PM2.5” and to “publish evidence early in 2019 to examine what action would be needed” to meet the WHO limit. He has yet to publish either the target or the evidence.

The impact of this pollution on children's health is underlined when one realises that there are 5.4 million people with asthma in the UK, including 1.1 million children. The UK has one of the highest asthma death rates in Europe. Something needs to be done to tackle this problem urgently.
Heavy pollution comes from car exhausts etc with us living in close proximity to one another.Crowded cities with houses built next to busy roads that can increase asthma. By RAPIDLY developing ELECTRIC bus services and thus taking cars off the roads can reduce this problem.It needs political will from both councils and the govnt.to solve this. Lib Dem Councils should lead the way.
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