More than 3.4m children attend schools with toxic air

A new study has found that 27% of UK schools are in areas with high air pollution levels

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More than a quarter of all UK schools are in areas that are above the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) air pollution limits.

That is the conclusion of a new study from charity EarthSense, which has revealed that more than 3.4 million children across England, Scotland and Wales are learning in a polluted environment.

The research has measured the concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5) around these schools, which is made up of tiny particles that enter the lungs and blood, causing conditions such as heart and lung disease.

Of the 7,852 schools above the WHO’s pollution limit, 98% (7,692) are in England, with a staggering 25% (1,973) based in London and 28% (2,181) based in the Southeast. The best scoring area of England was the Northeast with only five schools in polluted areas.

Dr Maria Neira, Director at the WHO, commented: “These figures are unequivocally too high and harming children’s health. Schools should be safe places of learning, not places where students are at risk of health hazards.

“There is no safe level of air pollution and if we care about our children and their future, air pollution limits should reflect WHO guidelines.”