The recent expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone to all of Greater London means the air surrounding more than 140 schools lying outside the North and South Circular roads will now meet World Health Organisation (WHO) targets for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) content, according to figures recently released by City Hall.
The answer to a question from Krupesh Hirani, the London Assembly member for Brent & Harrow, says that Croydon is seeing 21 more of its schools brought up WHO standards compared with before the expansion, taking its number up to 97 out of its 151 schools compared with 76 before the expansion, while 16 more Redbridge schools now make the grade, a rise from 41 to 57 out of a total of 93 schools.
Twelve more schools in Barnet, 11 more in Barking & Dagenham and seven more in Hillingdon and Enfield now have air with amounts of NO2 lower than the WHO limit according to City Hall, and smaller numbers in other outer London boroughs.
In all, 144 more schools across Greater London should now meet WHO standards according to the figures supplied by City Hall, bringing the total up to 1,031 out of 3,256 – a rsie from 886 prior to the expansion, according to the figures.
Hirani submitted his question in December following a Transport for London announcement about its calculation of the expansion’s benefits. Hirani asked to be given the names of all the schools and a breakdown of the numbers in each borough. The answer was released on 30 August.
City Hall calculates that these projected air quality improvements will benefit nearly 90,000 London school children of nursery, primary and secondary school ages during their time spent on school premises and their surroundings.
Prolonged exposure to high levels of NO2 can contribute to the development of asthma and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, particularly among children and elderly people. Among children it can create long-term lung damage.
Hirani said: “Every child has the right to clean air when they’re travelling to school, learning in the classroom or having fun on the playground. For too long they have been exposed to higher risks of stunted lung growth and chronic illnesses, such as asthma, lung and heart disease.”