Mums for Lungs launch ScienceFest – an educational celebration of clean air

Mums for Lungs came together in Brixton in 2017 when a group of mums on parental leave together began to worry about the quality of air in which they were walking their babies.

Having grown into an organisation that has influence all over the UK, it is not unusual to see them announcing interesting new initiatives to draw attention to air quality issues at all levels of society and the latest such initiative is ScienceFest! 

The event will run throughout the Spring of 2023 in schools in Lambeth and Southwark, bringing specialised scientific minds in the field of air quality into classrooms ‘to create an army of junior citizen scientists, who are learning about, measuring and assessing the air around us.’

Children aged between four and 16 are working with scientists from Imperial College London, University College London, Nottingham University, as well as the Dyson Foundation and Marston Holdings, to examine and understand the air they breathe.

At Elmgreen Secondary School in Lambeth, scientists from Nottingham University are working with students to build eight air pollution monitors and filtration systems to reduce pollution in their classrooms. The low-cost systems, which can be easily assembled without specialist training, use smart technology which ensures the filtration system only operates when pollution levels are high. 

Engineers from the Dyson Foundation are working with Dunraven Secondary School to build air purifying fans and learning about how engineering and design can help tackle air pollution. 

At Dulwich Wood Primary School, Dr Pia Hardelid, an epidemiologist who works at UCL and Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health is giving a workshop introducing Key Stage 2 children to epidemiology, the power of asking the right questions and how she uses data for child public health research. She will also talk about how children’s home life and their walk to school may be affected by the quality of air they breathe. 

Dr Diana Varaden, a scientist at Imperial College, is exploring the area around a Lambeth school with its pupils. They will be measuring the quality of the air using sensitive filters, and looking at the variations between different types of road.

And last, but certainly not least, AQN’s good friend Nick Ruxton-Boyle, a chemist and transport scientist at Marston Holdings, will be working with a Lambeth primary school, measuring the air pollution around them, and helping the children talk about their findings to their parents and teachers.

Image: Alex Bigham, The Story Network



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1 year ago

I found this too, about VOCs. Brian C. McDonald and collegaues: Volatile chemical products emerging as largest petrochemical source of urban organic emissions. In the journal Science, 2018, 359(6377):760-764. Are VOCs a problem in schools?

1 year ago

Spounds great but doesn’t mention where the air pollution might be coming from. Or will the project discover that? I think all the sprays, especially deodorants & hair products, that teenagers like to use could be involved here. School changing rooms and gyms msut be full of these chemicals and perhaps they can cause asthma attacks in some cases. Anyone here know about that? Fragrance sensitivity: why perfumed products can cause profound health problems | Health & wellbeing | The Guardian – does that count as a form of air pollution perhaps? And this? French health authorities warn of ‘dangerous’ chemicals in school supplies (

A Mill
A Mill
1 year ago
Reply to  chris

Deodorants, scented laundry products, air fresheners and other scented products are petrochemical based and are a type of air pollution. It’s a growing problem because things are becoming more scented, such as scent boosters in laundry products. There’s companies who sell ‘scent marketing’ to shops, hotels, etc which is creating an accessibility issue for the growing number of people who are sensitive to these chemicals, and so are excluded from a lot of places due to their overpowering ‘signature scents’ which are diffused into the air. I developed a sensitivity to scented products about eight years ago and I have seen the issue becoming so much worse over that time. I hope this scheme will look at fragrance chemicals, but they’re certainly not on Mums for Lungs radar.

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