Upper Holloway school makes shocking air pollution discovery

Children at St John's Upper Holloway

Children at St John's Upper Holloway - Credit: Archant

Islington youngsters have discovered that air pollution outside their school is more than double the limit set by the European Union.

Pupils from St John’s Upper Holloway Church of England Primary School found streets in the area regularly had nitrogen dioxide levels that were twice the EU limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

The youngsters made the discovery while taking part in a project by the London Sustainability Exchange which looks at air pollution and ways of cutting it.

The project, Cleaner Air 4 Schools, allows pupils to measure air pollution by using diffusion tubes and wipes taken from the school’s windows.

Brian Welsh, head teacher of St John’s, said: “We initially became interested in the project as a result of us looking into energy saving measures.

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“Islington Council had come in to talk about a range of activities we could undertake. The Cleaner Air 4 Schools project was an opportunity to involve pupils and the wider school community.

“Pupils enjoyed the practical aspects of the project carrying out tests and making observations to measure levels of pollution.

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“The support of the local authority has also been extremely valuable in ensuring there are real benefits to taking part.”

The school, in Pemberton Gardens, is within 150 metres of main roads which carry more than 100,000 vehicles a day.

Experts estimate that around 10 per cent of all car journeys are related to education so Cleaner Air 4 Schools has been working with parents and schools finding ways to cut down on unnecessary road trips.

Across London around 4,000 people each year die prematurely from air pollution-related causes – with children particularly at risk due to their smaller lung capacity.

Cllr Rakhia Ismail, Islington Council member for sustainability, said: “Children are at greater risk from the effects of air pollution compared to healthy adults, that’s why it is crucial we work with schools to understand air pollution and try to change behaviour - for example, around the school run - so schools are part of the solution.”

London Sustainability Exchange is planning to work with other schools in the borough in 2014 while Islington Council has joined with Camden to hold a summit on pollution.

The 2nd Air Quality Summit on October 17 from 5.30pm to 8.30pm at Islington Town Hall and residents and businesses are encouraged to come along and let their voices be heard.

To book a place or find out more information email pollution@islington.gov.uk or call 020 7527 3048.

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