More than 60% UK schools exceed healthy levels of air pollution

These levels are driven by rush hour traffic, research shows

Net Hero Podcast

The number of schools in the UK that exceed safe air pollution levels has hit 65%.

That’s according to cleantech platform Airly, which has installed its air pollution sensors across British schools in the last year.

Out of 36 schools monitored in the last four months, 35 showed levels of PM2.5 pollution, which is higher than the safe threshold set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

For nitrogen dioxide pollution, 21 (65%) of the schools exceeded safe levels, with every school experiencing periods throughout the day or every other day where levels were too high.

A primary school in London had the most polluted air, while a primary school in Edinburgh experienced the least.

The research reveals that during the hours of 6-8:30am air pollution is highest, it then plateaus for the duration of the school day, rising sharply again from 3-9pm – demonstrating that it is clearly driven by traffic in the surrounding area during rush hour.

Marcin Gnat from Airly commented: “Pupils are exposed to high concentrations of NO2 and PM2.5 mainly during travel to school and in school playgrounds.

“Airly’s outdoor monitors have been positioned in such a way as to be able to determine what kind of air students breathe when they are near the school building.

“Thanks to the data we have collected, we know the situation is far from perfect but the first step towards pollution-free schools has been made.

“This step is to make air pollution a topic for discussion among school communities, having the necessary knowledge and understanding of the causes of pollution and its impact on health.”