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Air filters to be rolled out to first London’s 200 schools

Christian Fernsby |
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced bold plans to further protect the health of young Londoners by installing innovative new air filters into some of the London’s most polluted schools.

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PM2.5 filters will be fitted in every classroom in 200 London schools, spread across London, later this year. This pilot project, if successful, could then be expanded to cover every school in London.

The additional £2.7m funding forms part of the Mayor’s 2024/25 budget which will be voted on by the London Assembly on Thursday. In addition to the air filters themselves, the funding will pay for school engagement, educational materials, monitoring the impact of the programme and maintenance of the filters.

Bold measures introduced by the Mayor have already helped cut the number of educational establishments with illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution by 94 per cent – from 793 schools in 2016 to 50 in 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available).

Due to ambitious air quality action by the Mayor, all educational establishments are estimated to be legally compliant with the NO2 annual mean UK limit by 2025. However, most schools in London still exceed the World Health Organization interim guideline for particulate matter pollution.

A City Hall research project is currently underway to ascertain the best type of air filter that will be used. This is due to be completed in May, with installation of filters in the first pilot schools to follow later in the year.

These could include models which filter the air using fans and replaceable filter cartridges which trap the tiny toxic particles as the air circulates.

The schools chosen for the pilot project will be selected based on pollution levels, as well as those in more deprived areas; ensuring that the chosen schools are spread evenly across London.

Transport for London (TfL) has also provided funding and support to the London boroughs to increase the number of School Streets in the capital – where roads surrounding schools are closed to motor traffic at drop-off and pick-up times - to over 500.

Analysis has shown average decreases of 23 per cent in Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) concentrations during School Streets closure periods.

These new measures, coupled with the Mayor’s bold policies including the Ultra Low Emission Zone, cleaner buses and taxis and reduction in construction emissions, will further clean up the air that London’s children breathe.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am doing everything in my power to stop Londoners breathing filthy poisonous air. We know that the impact of pollution on young people’s health can be particularly acute, causing lasting damage to children’s lungs.

“Since I first became Mayor, there has been a significant reduction in the number of schools in areas which exceed the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide, but we need to make progress even further and faster.

“Alongside parents and teachers, I want every single child to breathe clean air in and around their school. In those vital early years, the difference to young people’s health and wellbeing can be lifechanging.”


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