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London launches £1m fund to tackle school air pollution fears

Finance will be provided to 50 schools recently audited over indoor and outdoor pollution to introduce a range of measures intended to improve air quality

London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced £1m in funding to try and curb exposure to toxic air in schools across the capital on the back of a three-month audit looking at sources of indoor and outdoor pollution.

The funding is intended to support new infrastructure projects such as the closing roads or moving school entrances, as well as measures to tackle indoor air quality with improved ventilation systems. Social factors such as promoting cycling and walking will also be backed under the strategy.

A total of £300,000 pounds will be used to fund “green infrastructure” at any schools located in areas found to be exceeding legal pollution limits.

£250,000 of the funding money is also expected to support air quality audits and the provision of indoor air filters to 20 nurseries in the capital, according to the mayor’s office.

St Mary’s Bryanston Square Primary School in Westminster is one of the schools that has been working with City Hall, Westminster Council and other authorities to introduce recommendations from its audit. This includes installing a new filtration system to curb indoor air pollution in the school as part of a project that received £20,000 in funding under the new commitments.

Mr Khan said that as mayor, City Hall would provide the proposed funding to the 50 audited schools in order to introduce immediate changes to tackle air pollution either through new technologies or infrastructure changes. The mayor’s office is also providing a ‘toolkit’ designed to assist all London boroughs in areas exceeding pollution limits to support a similar audit-style approach to tackling the issue of air quality in schools.

Mr Khan said, “Air pollution is a national health crisis that is putting the health of children at risk. As mayor, I’ve moved fast in London to implement the most ambitious plans to tackle air pollution of any major city in the world. This includes cleaning up our bus and taxi fleets, bringing forward the introduction of the world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone and introducing the Toxicity Charge – T-Charge – for the oldest polluting vehicles in central London.”

“But I can’t do this alone. The government must step up and act with more urgency if we are going to tackle London’s filthy air once and for all.”

Glenn Higgs, associate director of engineering consultancy WSP, which performed the assessment of indoor and outdoor air pollution affecting London schools, said that the group’s recommendations were intended to offer genuine improvements in air quality in the capital.

Mr Higgs said, “This audit process takes a truly multidisciplinary approach, with input from WSP’s air quality, transport, buildings and energy specialists, and can now be rolled out for other schools in London which are most affected by air pollution.”

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