The Mayor of London’s School Air Quality Audit Programme
Mayor’s air quality audits & £1m fund to protect pupils from pollution
From the Mayor's Webpage
- Sadiq delivers blueprints for 50 schools in most-polluted areas of London
- New £1 million fund to help worst affected schools bring in changes immediately
- Funding will also provide 20 nurseries with air quality audits and indoor air filters as Mayor publishes report into school indoor air pollution
Some of London’s most polluted primary schools, with a share of a new £1 million fund from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, are set to bring in a range of measures to help protect pupils from toxic air.
Under an initiative launched by the Mayor last year, detailed air quality audits have been carried out in 50 schools across 23 London boroughs. The audits assessed the air quality in some of the capital’s worst polluted schools and have made a series of recommendations to protect pupils.
These include major infrastructure measures, such as closing roads or moving playgrounds and school entrances, as well as targeting indoor pollution using improved ventilation systems, and installing green ‘pollution barrier’ hedges, tackling engine idling outside schools and promoting cycling and walking.
The audits were conducted by global engineering consultancy WSP, who spent three months in schools assessing indoor and outdoor air pollution sources, looking at how students travel to school, and reviewing local walking routes including traffic crossings.
Today the Mayor visited St Mary’s Bryanston Square Primary School in Westminster, close to the busy Marylebone Road, where staff have already started working with City Hall, Transport for London and Westminster Council to implement some of their audit recommendations.
Improvements at St Mary’s include:
- Installing and testing a new filtration system to reduce pollution inside the school. This is being delivered with £20,000 in new funding from the Mayor and Westminster Council;
- The school has worked with the borough to trial a year-long closure of the busy road, Enford Street, outside its entrance, to traffic at the start and end of the school day. The trial will start this summer;
- Turning the staff car park into a garden and encouraging all staff and pupils to walk, cycle or use public transport;
- Working with British Land to install a ‘green wall’ – a variety of plants across a playground wall - to screen students playing outside from nearby traffic pollution;
- Involving pupils in a 'no-engine idling' campaign to help educate their parents on reduce harmful emissions.
The Mayor’s new £1 million fund will provide each of the 50 audited schools with a £10,000 starter grant and enable any of the other London schools located in areas exceeding legal air pollution limits to apply for green infrastructure funding.
The fund includes:
- £500,000 to deliver non-transport interventions at all 50 audited schools,
- £300,000 to deliver green infrastructure at any London school located in an area exceeding legal pollution limits (from the Greener City Fund);
- £250,000 in funding to launch a new nursery audit programme that will trial filtration systems to reduce indoor air pollution at 20 of the most polluted nurseries in the most polluted areas
Boroughs have been provided with a total of £237 million by TfL this year to help them manage their streets. They will be encouraged to use some of this to deliver the transport recommendations around the audited schools, which will also support the Healthy Streets approach. The Mayor has also developed a toolkit to help boroughs apply the audits approach to other schools located in areas exceeding legal pollution limits.
Poor air quality on London’s streets can contribute to illegally high levels of indoor pollution in some school buildings, which is why the Mayor has rapidly introduced strong measures to cut traffic emissions including the T-Charge in central London for the oldest, more polluting vehicles and bringing forward the Ultra-Low Emission Zone to April 2019.
Today, the Mayor has published a report today by University College London and the University of Cambridge assessing indoor air quality at five London primary schools and one nursery. It found differences in pollution levels between classrooms depending on a range of factors, including building characteristics, design and maintenance. A significant proportion of indoor air pollution is due to outdoor air pollution.
For NO2, which was strongly related to the risk of asthma attacks and asthmatic symptoms, outdoor sources accounted for 84 per cent of the variation between classrooms, highlighting the importance of tackling emissions from road traffic (including through measures such the Ultra-Low Emission Zone) and preventing it from entering the building.
The findings suggested that the protection offered by the building increased the further away it was from the busiest roads and that airtight buildings may offer greater protection. The report also found that in most classrooms annual exposure to small particles was higher than recommended World Health Organization guidelines, although this was caused by a combination of indoor and outdoor sources.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m doing everything in my power to protect children in London from air pollution. Our air quality audits set out to reduce pollution in and around school premises.
“City Hall are also offering funding to the 50 audited schools - as well as other schools and nurseries located in high-pollution areas - to help them make immediate changes.
“Air pollution is a national health crisis that is putting the health of children at risk. As Mayor, I’ve moved fast in London to implement the most ambitious plans to tackle air pollution of any major city in the world. This includes cleaning up our bus and taxi fleets, bringing forward the introduction of the world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone and introducing the Toxicity Charge – T-Charge – for the oldest polluting vehicles in central London.
“But I can’t do this alone. The Government must step up and act with more urgency if we are going to tackle London’s filthy air once and for all.”
Glenn Higgs, Associate Director at WSP, said: “We are delighted to have worked with the GLA, school communities and boroughs to develop recommendations which will make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of children at 50 primary schools by helping to tackle their air quality issues. This audit process takes a truly multidisciplinary approach, with input from WSP’s air quality, transport, buildings and energy specialists, and can now be rolled out for other schools in London which are most affected by air pollution.”
Emily Norman, headteacher at St Mary's Bryanston Square Primary School, said: “Air quality is a big concern here at St Mary’s School. Our children are extremely aware of the dangers, both for their own health and for the community at large. We’re working to combat this problem ourselves, by encouraging more sustainable travel options, campaigning to stop vehicle idling at the school gates, and turning the carpark into a garden. The children have led the way by monitoring traffic on nearby roads.
“We are very pleased to be part of the Mayor’s air quality audit, as it has identified ways to tackle air quality, such as closing the street to traffic at key points in the school day and air filtration inside the classrooms. This will make a real difference to our children’s well-being at school, and significantly enhance the school’s work in this area.”
Westminster City Council Leader, Cllr Nickie Aiken, said: “We welcome The Mayor’s efforts to improve air quality across London - his support and funding will help us to reduce pollution around our schools.
“With over one million daily visitors Westminster suffers some of the worst pollution and air quality is the number one concern for our residents. To demonstrate our commitment to improving air quality we are pleased to announce that we will match fund the Mayor’s scheme for schools in our borough.
“Air quality is a national issue and there are no miracle cures but by working together we can make a big difference locally.”
St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, London Borough of Hounslow