Road Safety News

School pollution report highlights need to tackle vehicle emissions

Tuesday 19th September 2017

Image: FIA Foundation

The authorities must undertake ‘serious and coordinated action’ to protect the most vulnerable school children in London from air pollution, a new report has concluded.

Commissioned by the FIA Foundation, the Aether report shows, ‘for the first time’, the combination of health factors facing children in the most polluted London schools - including social deprivation, obesity and lower levels of activity.

Published ahead of International Walk to School Day on 4 October, the study highlights how the Capital’s most deprived children attend schools most affected by poor air quality, yet contribute least to traffic pollution - because they walk to school more frequently than the average child.

Further to that, 86% of primary schools affected by poor air quality have catchment areas with lower than the London average for car ownership.

Looking specifically at active travel, the report highlights the positive benefits of physical activity, such as walking and cycling to school, while raising questions over the barriers to the long-term take-up of cycling.

Saul Billingsley, executive director of the FIA Foundation, said: “There is growing evidence that children from some of London’s most socially-deprived areas are not only affected by unacceptable levels of air pollution around their schools, but they also face compounding health risks.

“In funding this research and raising awareness of these issues in London, we hope to stimulate action here and in other cities, to help tackle air pollution for the two billion children who live in areas where outdoor pollution exceeds international limits.

“This report strengthens the argument for serious, coordinated, action across all agencies and authorities to tackle vehicle emissions at source, and to adopt a holistic approach to urban development and transport that emphasises healthy outcomes.


Category: Children, Public health.


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Fortunately, the road safety sector do sift out and decline to take up much of the UK and European health sector's more extreme policies & recommendations related to road safety. It has always been thus and long may it remain so.
Pat, Wales

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

So the reason that speed speed limits are being reduced is primariy because of air pollution and not as previously thought a policy designed to reduce deaths and injuries caused by vehicle collisions. So now we know.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

Yes, I think it is a road safety matter. Demand to reduce exhaust emissions to improve air quality has already introduced pressures to reduce speed limits. Reducing speed limits as an air pollution control is already Public Health England policy.
Pat, Wales

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

Can I just ask if air pollution is a road safety matter? Surely it lies within the remit of Envirnmental Health. Is it something we should be concerned about on this site or within the remit of road safety to do something about it or have we somehow adopted it?
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (4) | Disagree (3)

Rod: I was aware of that fact which is why mentioned the A/C as a way around it. Most modern cars have A/C and one of the benefits of air-conditioned cars is that most, if not all obnoxious air content is excluded, although I daresay a lot of parents would not be aware of this benefit and wouldn't bother switching it on. (I wasn't advocating going to school by car over walking or cycling by the way.)

I don't think pollution is the greatest threat from motorised vehicles to be honest and I'm sure lots of people are not aware of it although it will depend on how much time one spends in the immediate vicinity of heavy traffic.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)


Children are at risk of dangerous levels of air pollution in cars because exposure to toxic air is often far higher inside than outside vehicles, a former government chief scientific adviser has warned.
Rod King, Warrington, 20' Plenty for Us

Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

It might be naive of me, but if children are being encouraged to walk and cycle more to city schools, are they not being exposed to more pollution, particularly when cycling on the road, as they will be 'in the line of fire' so to speak, of vehicle exhausts? What's the solution?... children only allowed to be taken to school in vehicles with A/C? A bit extreme perhaps and more vehicles defeats the object. I presume the pollution caused by vehicles is only a problem in cities anyway.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (6)