1/4 of UK schools exceed WHO air pollution limit

Over 1/4 of UK schools are located in areas where air pollution is above the World Health Organisation (WHO) limits, according to new data published by charity Global Action Plan.

The data, which was collected by EarthSense reveals that 7,852 out of 28,965 UK schools are in areas where particulate matter (PM2.5) is higher than the WHO recommended ‘safe’ level of 10ug/m3.

In London, 25% of schools exceed the WHO limits, with notable boroughs including, 158 schools in Lambeth & Southwark, 146 in Romford, 129 in Croydon, 119 in Twickenham, 116 in Brixton, and 95 in Ilford.

In the South East, 28% (2,181) of schools exceed the recommended level and in the East Midlands, 9% of all schools are in areas that exceed the level.

This year’s Clean Air Day theme is ‘protect our children’s health from air pollution.’

black swing chair hanging by gray chain

Based on these findings, the charity behind Clean Air Day is calling for an environment where children can learn and play free from the damaging effects of air pollution using the following actions:

  • Individuals: are being to leave their car at home
  • Schools: are being asked to host assemblies to raise awareness of air pollution
  • Businesses: are being asked to signal their commitment to cleaning up toxic air by assessing and addressing their business impact on air quality
  • Health sector: hospitals and health professionals are being encouraged to host events and use the campaign as an opportunity to share information with patients and staff
  • Local authorities: are being asked to communicate the health risks of air pollution and how to tackle it to schools, residents, businesses and health groups with the need for action and say what they are doing to protect children’s health from air pollution.

Larissa Lockwood, director of clean air at Global Action Plan said: ‘The fact that 27% of UK schools are above WHO air pollution limits is extremely alarming. Air pollution is not a fact of life. If we all do our bit, it can be solved with collaborative action and education.

‘We have seen the power of Clean Air Day to unite a movement, to bring confidence to talk about the importance of tackling air pollution even in trying times, and to push for change, but it can’t stop there. Tools like the Clean Air for Schools Framework are available for free to help any school set up a clean air action plan, but schools cannot do this alone. If we all come together – individuals, schools, businesses, local authorities across the UK to collectively act and seize this moment we can create and support change, for good.’

Photo credit – Markus Spiske




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Jim McQuaid
Jim McQuaid
3 years ago

maybe a link to the report??

Hilary Gander
Hilary Gander
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim McQuaid

I can’t find the report

Graham Turnbull
Graham Turnbull
3 years ago

Has anyone seen the study itself? Our local media reported 2/3 of Sheffield post code schools above the WHO limit (I guess it’s NO2) in 2019 but now people are asking ‘Which schools’. Do you have anything besides the Global Action FUND press release? Thanks.

3 years ago

Are there any statistics for the North?

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