Image: FIA Foundation
The authorities must undertake ‘serious and coordinated action’ to protect the most vulnerable school children in London from air pollution, a new report has concluded.
Commissioned by the FIA Foundation, the Aether report shows, ‘for the first time’, the combination of health factors facing children in the most polluted London schools – including social deprivation, obesity and lower levels of activity.
Published ahead of International Walk to School Day on 4 October, the study highlights how the Capital’s most deprived children attend schools most affected by poor air quality, yet contribute least to traffic pollution – because they walk to school more frequently than the average child.
Further to that, 86% of primary schools affected by poor air quality have catchment areas with lower than the London average for car ownership.
Looking specifically at active travel, the report highlights the positive benefits of physical activity, such as walking and cycling to school, while raising questions over the barriers to the long-term take-up of cycling.
Saul Billingsley, executive director of the FIA Foundation, said: “There is growing evidence that children from some of London’s most socially-deprived areas are not only affected by unacceptable levels of air pollution around their schools, but they also face compounding health risks.
“In funding this research and raising awareness of these issues in London, we hope to stimulate action here and in other cities, to help tackle air pollution for the two billion children who live in areas where outdoor pollution exceeds international limits.
“This report strengthens the argument for serious, coordinated, action across all agencies and authorities to tackle vehicle emissions at source, and to adopt a holistic approach to urban development and transport that emphasises healthy outcomes.