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Revealed: ‘Shocking’ pollution levels recorded outside 22 Islington schools

PUBLISHED: 12:02 22 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:35 26 May 2017

Sian Berry and Islington residents during the installation of the pollution measuring devices one month ago

Sian Berry and Islington residents during the installation of the pollution measuring devices one month ago

Archant

Thousands of Islington schoolchildren are breathing in filthy air that is way above the EU pollution limit, “shocking” new tests have revealed.

Caroline Russell installs a diffusion tube in Highbury Barn Caroline Russell installs a diffusion tube in Highbury Barn

Results from roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) testing carried out across the borough showed Islington’s air is exceeding the EU limit in virtually every case, with five hotspots clocking in with more than 150 per cent of the European threshold.

A total of 29 air pollution measuring devices were put up for a month on roadsides, most of them outside schools and colleges.

Just one of the locations - outside Yerbury Primary School in Archway - scraped below the EU’s legal limit of 40 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre of air, with 37.20mg.

Old Street was found to have the highest level of air pollution – almost the double the legal limit with 77.12mg. This was followed closely by Exmouth Market at 68.15mg, Highbury Barn at 65.73, City and Islington College in Camden Road at 65.36mg and City and Islington College in Blackstock Road at 64.77mg.

Simon Birkett of Clean Air and Cllr Caroline Russell of the Green Party Simon Birkett of Clean Air and Cllr Caroline Russell of the Green Party

Nitrogen dioxide is linked to a range of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses that are particularly harmful to children, older people and those with existing health conditions such as asthma and heart and lung disease.

Islington Green Party councillor Caroline Russell described the results as “shocking and very worrying”.

“Almost all school locations tested were exposed to ‘illegal air’ – some almost twice the legal limit,” she said. “Even the one school that scraped in under the legal limit is exposed to health damaging pollution.

“It’s not surprising that 71 per cent of parents polled by a newspaper recently cited air pollution as their top health concern.”

Simon Birkett, the founder and director of Clean Air in London, said: “These results unfortunately confirm what we already knew, that London’s air is heavily polluted and harmful to us all.

“Many roads in London have levels of nitrogen dioxide that are amongst the highest in the world – far above legal limits and World Health Organisation guidelines. We want a clean air revolution in 2016 that bans diesel from the most polluted places – exactly 60 years after coal burning was banned so successfully.”

Jan Hart, Islington Council’s director of public protection, insisted that tackling air pollution was a priority for the council.

“Better air quality is a key ambition for the council, but it’s something we can’t tackle alone as for the whole of London, legal limits are exceeded,” she said. “We undertake our own continuous air quality monitoring across Islington so we know our hot spots, whereas these results are for a very limited period.

“We have a detailed air quality strategy and engage with colleagues across London to deliver it. We have successfully bid for external funding to support our work and will be starting a series of new projects shortly across Islington.”

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The full results were:

1. Yerbury Primary School 37.20 mg/m3 (93.01 per cent of the legal limit)

2. St John’s School 40.01 mg/m3 (100.03 per cent of the legal limit)

3. St Joseph’s School 42.04 mg/m3 (105.11 per cent of the legal limit)

4. Central Foundation Boys’ School 42.39 mg/m3 (105.98 per cent of the legal limit)

5. Rotherfield Primary School 43.83 mg/m3 (109.57 per cent of the legal limit)

6. Highbury Fields School 44.14 mg/m3 (110.34 per cent of the legal limit)

7. Moreland Primary School 45.52 mg/m3 (113.8 per cent of the legal limit)

8. Gillespie Primary School 45.56 mg/m3 (113.90 per cent of the legal limit)

9. St Mary Magdalene Academy 46.26 mg/m3 (115.65 per cent of the legal limit)

10. Thornhill Primary School 46.63 mg/m3 (116.56 per cent of the legal limit)

11. Hugh Myddleton School 47.55 mg/m3 (118.88 per cent of the legal limit)

12. Winton Primary School 47.62 mg/m3 (119.05 per cent of the legal limit)

13. Highbury Grove School 49.91 mg/m3 (124.78 per cent of the legal limit)

14. The Bridge School 50.61 mg/m3 (126.52 per cent of the legal limit)

15. Canonbury Primary School 50.91 mg/m3 (127.28 per cent of the legal limit)

16. Newington Green Primary School 51.08 mg/m3 (127.69 per cent of the legal limit)

17. Ambler Primary School 51.88 mg/m3 (129.69 per cent of the legal limit)

18. London Met University 52.39 mg/m3 (130.98 per cent of the legal limit)

19. Montem Primary School 52.50 mg/m3 (131.25 per cent of the legal limit)

20. St Joan of Arc School 53.05 mg/m3 (132.63 per cent of the legal limit)

21. Islington Town Hall 55.11 mg/m3 (137.77 per cent of the legal limit)

22. Laycock Primary School 55.15 mg/m3 (137.87 per cent of the legal limit)

23. Clerkenwell Parochial Primary School 55.47 mg/m3 (138.67 per cent of the legal limit)

24. St Paul’s Steiner School 59.08 mg/m3 (147.70 per cent of the legal limit)

25. City and Islington College in Blackstock Road 64.77 mg/m3 (161.93 per cent of the legal limit)

26. City and Islington College in Camden Road 65.36 mg/m3 (163.41 per cent of the legal limit)

27. Highbury Barn 65.73 mg/m3 (154.33 per cent of the legal limit)

28. Exmouth Market 68.15 mg/m3 (170.37 per cent of the legal limit)

29. Old Street 77.12 mg/m3 (192 per cent of the legal limit)

* The legal limit for NO2 is 40.00 mg/m3

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