A quarter of schools and nurseries ‘are in areas with dangerously high’ levels of pollution

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More than a quarter of British schools, nurseries and colleges are in areas with ‘dangerously high’ pollution levels, research suggests.

Pollution particles called PM2.5, which are found in car exhaust fumes, can trigger asthma attacks in children.

Researchers have now found that 8,549 educational establishments in England, Wales and Scotland – 27 per cent – are in areas where PM2.5 exceeds the World Health Organisation‘s limits.

The analysis, commissioned by Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, found that some of the highest levels of PM2.5 were found in Portsmouth, London, Gillingham, Chatham and Slough, which all had schools in areas with concentrations above 13 micrograms per cubic metre.

Pollution particles called PM2.5, which are found in car exhaust fumes, can trigger asthma attacks in children

Pollution particles called PM2.5, which are found in car exhaust fumes, can trigger asthma attacks in children

The WHO recommends PM2.5 should not be higher than ten micrograms – but the UK has a limit of only 25. 

Campaigners are now urging the Government to lower its limits. 

The study by Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants follows evidence that a third of new childhood asthma cases in the UK may be caused by pollution.    

Harriet Edwards, senior policy and project manager for air quality at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: ‘It’s alarming that thousands of children are going into schools where dangerously high air pollution levels could be putting their health and futures at risk.

‘There are no safe levels for air pollution, we need to get levels as low as possible and it’s vital the Government commits to ambitious new targets in line with the best available science from the WHO.

More than a quarter of British schools, nurseries and colleges are in areas with 'dangerously high' pollution levels, research suggests (stock image)

More than a quarter of British schools, nurseries and colleges are in areas with ‘dangerously high’ pollution levels, research suggests (stock image) 

‘Covid-19 has reinforced more than ever the importance of healthy lungs and it’s our responsibility to ensure the next generation has clean air to breathe.’

A Government spokesman said: ‘We are taking ambitious action to tackle air pollution across our communities – with emissions of fine particulate matter falling by 9% since 2010 and £3.8 billion invested in ensuring our air is the cleanest in decades.

‘But we know there is more to do, which is why through our landmark Environment Bill we are committed to setting an ambitious, legally binding target to reduce damaging fine particulate matter and ensure cleaner air for generations to come.’

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