ISLINGTON in inner London has become the first council in the UK to collect and publish air quality data at all primary and secondary schools in the borough.
The data, displaying the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution levels, shows that air quality is improving in Islington, compared to previously projected levels but that there is still work to do.
Councillor Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “Air pollution is the biggest health emergency facing Islington residents, with more than two million Londoners living in areas that exceed legal limits for NO2, including more than 400,000 children.
“That is why we’re committed to bold action to improve air quality around schools.
“We know children are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of air pollution and so we are determined to continue to be at the forefront of the fight against it.
“More action is needed to tackle air pollution in Islington and that is why we are committed to rolling out Britain’s biggest programme of School Streets to make the school gate a healthier, safer place for all.”
The council is committed to rolling out their popular School Streets programme to all schools, where possible, by 2022.
This year’s budget announced that the scheme, which reduces traffic at schools at drop-off and pick-up to improve air quality and boost safety, is being more than doubled from 13 schools, to 30.
Islington already has more school streets than any other UK borough.
The council started monitoring NO2 levels outside schools in 2018 and figures range from around 25 to 42µg/m3, with three schools over the legal objective of 40µg/m3.
Three more schools are at the very top limit of 40µg/m3.
Overall, 2018 actual air quality figures are lower than modelled figures for 2016 and appear to show an improvement in air quality over the two years.
As pollution can vary from year-to-year, for example due to changes in weather conditions, it is important to compare a single year’s data to longer term trends.
Islington will continue to monitor pollution outside schools and is determined to improve air quality at all schools, and across the borough, to ensure our children can have the best start in life.
Islington is working hard to tackle poor air quality and to create a healthier, greener and fairer borough. At the moment the council is:
- Islington was the first borough to install air quality monitoring at all local schools
- Introducing 13 School Streets – more than anywhere else in the country – to reduce air pollution, and plan to have taken this total to 30 by the end of 2020
- Conducting air quality audits at schools in the borough to better inform them on the best ways to improve pollution and reduce exposure at their school. The council is then helping schools implement recommendations where possible
- Anti-idling events where the council visits schools at drop off and pick up time to speak to drivers and let them know about idling and air quality in general
- Council works with schools in a number of ways to increase understanding around air quality, for example; creating walking maps, conducting workshops on air quality or creating school road closure events
In addition, more widely:
- The council’s ambitious Air Quality Strategy sets out targets and a raft of bold actions for the coming years to tackle air pollution, which goes hand-in-hand with many other council activities to improve air quality
- They encourage people to move away from polluting vehicles by an ambitious programme of charging points for electric vehicles – aiming to install 400 charging points by the end of 2020 – deterring the use of high-polluting diesel vehicles and by encouraging more cycling and walking
- They have worked with our partners to transform out-dated and dangerous transport infrastructure to tackle poor air quality and provide cycle-friendly solutions
- They plan to electrify the entire council fleet of over 500 vehicles