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Air Pollution and UK Schools – Public Awareness of the Issue grows

14 December 2018

Air Pollution in and around schools is in the news frequently:

  • Thousands of British children exposed to illegal levels of air pollution - Exclusive: More than 2,000 schools and nurseries close to roads with damaging levels of diesel fumes – Full article
  • London's most polluted schools to be given air-quality audits - Mayor Sadiq Khan announces first 50 schools to undergo audits to help identify measures to minimise the impact of pollution on children – Full article

Reports from the WHO and UNICEF site studies that show air pollution hits children harder than adults. The following excerpt from the WHO report makes the case clear:

The evidence also shows a relationship between exposure to ambient air pollutants and adverse effects on the development of lung function. Reversible lung function deficits, chronically reduced lung growth rates and lower lung function levels are associated with exposure to air pollution. Moreover, the evidence shows clearer relationships for particulate matter and traffic-related air pollution (indicated by nitrogen dioxide) than for other pollutants. Based on current knowledge, air pollutants seem to interact with other environmental factors, such as allergens, viruses and diet, that influence the overall impact of air pollutants on children’s health.


Children spend up to 40 hours a week in school or in childcare facilities. Put another way, that’s almost 50% of the time they spend awake. So it’s little wonder that parents are eager to understand what steps teachers and administrators are taking to 1) quantify the problem, and 2) manage the effects.

Part of the problem is the location of most schools. Urban schools are often located near major roads – so they are easy for a majority of the school population to access.

There is plenty that can be done. The National Education Union and British Lung Foundation have teamed up to provide schools with guidance.

Aeroqual offer cost effective, simple and accurate system to help quantify and monitor key pollutants. This helps and inform and educate pupils, staff and local administrators on the issues facing schools particularly in urban areas. Find out more here.

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