Air pollution at Newham schools worst in England, study says

Air pollution over London. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA

Air pollution over London. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Newham has been ranked the worst local authority in England for levels of particulate matter pollution at schools. 

A new analysis by City Hall has revealed that children across London are four times more likely to go to school in areas where particulate matter pollution (PM2.5) exceeds World Health organisation limits than children in the rest of England. 

The study, based on national government data for annual average PM2.5 in 2019, found that 98 per cent of London schools were in areas exceeding WHO limits, compared to 24 pc outside London. 

On average, PM2.5 concentrations were a third (33 per cent) higher at schools in London than in the rest of England. 

London boroughs accounted for 28 of the 30 boroughs with the highest school levels; while Newham ranked worst, Barking and Dagenham ranked 7th and Redbridge was 11th.

A study by King’s College London, Queen Mary University of London and the University of Edinburgh found that increased levels of air pollution significantly affected children’s health. 

The research found that children growing up in polluted parts of the capital lost approximately five per cent in lung capacity - equivalent to two large eggs - compared to their peers in the rest of England. 

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Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m doing everything in my power to stop young Londoners breathing air so filthy that it damages their lungs.  

“This is why I’m expanding the Ultra-Low Emission Zone later this year.

“I want to make sure all of London meets the World Health Organisation limits for particulate matter."

The London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be expanded up to the North and South Circular roads in October this year. 

Nyeleti Brauer-Maxaeia, co-founder of Choked Up, said exposing children to high levels of air pollution "can have devastating consequences on their health for years" and felt action like the ULEZ expansion was needed "to prevent this air quality crisis from marking more young lives." 

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