Fifteen children have handed in a petition at Downing Street today (6 December) together with the British Lung Foundation (BLF), calling for air quality monitors around schools.
The petition, which was signed by over 20,000 people, urges the government to protect children’s lungs, which are particularly vulnerable to air pollution while they’re still growing.
According to the BLF, 3,000 schools across the UK are located in areas with illegal and dangerous levels of air pollution. However, a freedom of information request by the BLF earlier this year revealed that two-thirds (57%) of councils don’t have air quality monitors outside their local schools.
Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “There is strong evidence that pollution can stunt the growth of children’s lungs, cause flare-ups in conditions like asthma, and increase rates of coughs and bronchitis in children.
“We have a duty to ensure these children can breathe clean air. The next generation can’t be allowed to grow up with damaged lungs, simply because the air they inhaled daily was filled with toxic levels of pollution.”
The children from Monks Orchard Primary School in Croydon, alongside parents, teachers and Dr Woods, delivered petition boxes asking the government to take action.
Nine-year-old Kieran Francis, from Monks Orchard primary school, said: “We’ve learned about air pollution in school and what it does to our lungs. I want to grow up healthy, but the dirty air might mean my lungs don’t grow to a normal adult size. This could make it harder for me to play and work when I’m older.
“Me and my class are going to Downing Street to ask the government to protect us from pollution.”
Mr Rickitts, a teacher from Monks Orchard primary school, said: “Air pollution is the invisible danger that is damaging children’s lungs on their daily commute. Our jobs involve more than educating children. We prepare them for the world, and while they’re at school, keep them safe from harm.
“That is why we’re supporting the British Lung Foundation’s campaign to monitor air quality around schools. We want every child across the country to have equal opportunity to grow into healthy and capable adults.”
The British Lung Foundation is a UK charity helping people in affected by lung disease.