Over 400 schools across London are currently exceeding legal air pollution limits, new figures released on Friday by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has shown.
The analysis shows 443 schools across the capital are exposed to air quality in breach of EU limits for NO2 air pollution and for the first time reveals 86 secondary schools in the capital are in highly polluted areas.
The mayor also released the details of the 100 primary and secondary schools in London that register the highest levels of pollutants such as NO2, with the figures showing Southwark, Westminster and Tower Hamlets are the three boroughs with the highest number of schools in high pollution areas.
Since taking office in May, Khan has made tackling air pollution a top priority. The new figures come after he asked City Hall officials to provide an update on the current impact of air pollution on schools, following the emergence in May of a previously-unpublished 2010 report that showed that four-fifths of the 433 London primary schools exceeding air pollution limits were in deprived areas.
The new figures show that little has changed since 2010, with a higher number of schools now breaching the legal limits.
Khan said that the latest figures show why it is absolutely right to act now on London’s air pollution. “It is simply not acceptable that young Londoners – our children, grandchildren, family, neighbours and friends – are being exposed to dangerously polluted air and putting them at greater risk of respiratory and other conditions,” he said in a statement.
“This is yet more evidence that the last mayor failed Londoners when it comes to improving air quality in the capital. I have been clear that I will not stand by and continue to let that happen and that is why I am more determined than ever to get to grips with tackling the capital’s toxic air pollution and delivering on a promise of cleaner air for all Londoners.”
Khan has argued that London can meet the EU legal standards for NO2 well before 2025, the date the government’s current plans project London will be compliant. Since coming into office in May, Khan has joined a high court challenge against the government over its air pollution plans, and set out proposals to tackle air pollution including an extension of the planned ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) and implementation of a charge on the most polluting vehicles entering the capital.
The new mayor has also asked City Hall and Transport for London (TfL) officials to develop a programme which promotes cleaner air walking routes to school, and last month announced he had directed TfL to “urgently” develop a package of public alerts and signs to better inform the public on air pollution.
Khan is set to launch a formal public consultation on his package of measures to tackle air pollution in London next week.