Exclusive: More than 2,000 schools and nurseries close to roads with damaging levels of diesel fumes, joint investigation by Guardian and Greenpeace reveals
Hundreds of thousands of children are being exposed to illegal levels of damaging air pollution from diesel vehicles at schools and nurseries across England and Wales, a joint investigation by the Guardian and Greenpeace’s investigations unit has revealed.
The analysis of the most recent government data exposes how dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution from diesel traffic are not limited to large metropolitan centres, but threaten the health of children and young people in towns and cities from Newcastle to Plymouth.
The research shows more than 1,000 nurseries which look after 47,000 babies and children are in close proximity to roads where the level of nitrogen dioxide from diesel traffic exceeds the legal limit of 40µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air).
The findings come as the government is under pressure to dramatically improve its strategy to clean up the nation’s air, after the high court said its plans to reduce illegal levels of harmful emissions were so poor as to be unlawful. Ministers have to produce new draft measures to tackle air pollution by 24 April.
Chris Griffiths, professor of primary care and public health at Bart’s and the London School of Medicine, said the findings were very important and called for a dramatic change in attitudes within society and from government.
“The research on exposure to traffic fumes and children’s lung growth is pretty consistent. It shows that such exposure reduces lung growth, produces long term ill health and can cause premature death. We should be outraged that we are exposing our developing children to these obvious problems.”
Read More: The Guardian