EVENT: Air pollution and schools

The negative health impacts of air pollution on children are well documented and it’s therefore imperative we reduce their exposure to pollution. A logical place to start is by looking at schools, where they spend most of their time during the week.

The APPG has long been a supporter of campaigns to reduce young people’s exposure to air pollution, including banning idling outside of schools, using hedges and plants to improve air quality in playgrounds and supporting active travel to schools. The APPG was therefore delighted to host this special event on schools and air pollution.

WATCH THE MEETING IN FULL:

Geraint Davies, Chair of the APPG, said that a second lockdown in England gave a renewed opportunity to improve air quality. It should also provide a further incentive for parents and schools to work together to reduce the pollution in schools to ensure they are healthy and safe places for children to learn, noting the link between prevalence and severity of Coronavirus with air pollution. He said it was important that parents are given up-to-date information on pollution levels to inspire healthier choices for travelling to school each day, with the support of schools and local authorities. The government must also act by including World Health Organisation pollution guidelines and provisions for monitoring indoor air pollution in the Environment Bill. He urged for people to write to their MPs asking for them to support these amendments to the Bill.

Chris Large, Co-CEO at Global Action Plan, said that Air Quality is an environmental issue, health issue, societal issue and an economic challenge. The benefits of tackling air pollution range from better health, with fewer road accidents, reduces stressed, less loneliness etc. Global Action’s school’s framework therefore sets out ways to engage different groups to tackle air pollution. You can see his full presentation here.

Dr Luke Munford, University of Manchester, summarised academic literature that shows air pollution decreased executive functioning in primary school students and carried out a study on how different pollutants effected memory. You can see the full presentation here.

Sheila Watson, Deputy Director of Environment and Research, FIA Foundation, showed the outcomes of a project, which gave school-aged children evidence on air pollution emission to interrogate. It successfully gave young peoplea voice in the debate about car manufacturing and omissions. You can see the full presentation here.

Gemma McHenry, Project Manager, Philips Foundation, highlighted how The Clean Air for Schools partnership set-out to equip all schools across the UK and Ireland with the tools and knowledge to improve air quality. You can see the full presentation here.

Steve Marsland, Head Teacher, Russell Scott Primary, said that schools working together can make the changes needed for better air quality for children.