With the rising levels of pollution in the major cities parents are facing a tough choice between their child’s education and their health. The quality of air has become a deciding factor while choosing a school for their children.
For the past couple of years, there has been an increase in the number of parents who are dropping good schools from their list because of the deteriorating local air quality. In some cases, the situation is such that some families are even looking to move out of cities altogether, as fears over the effects of diesel emissions on health mount.
A study to identify the effects of poor air quality on school going children was conducted by the British Lung Foundation with more than 2,000 schoolchildren participating in the research in London. This was the first study in a city where diesel pollution is a significant factor.
According to the study, it was found that pollution from diesel vehicles was stunting the growth of children’s lungs, leaving them damaged for life. This piece of evidence only solidified the concerns of the parents for their children.
In an interview with “The Guardian”, Sarah MacFadyen, head of policy and public affairs at British Lung Foundation said that “it found that children lost about 5% of their lung capacity as an adverse effect of the pollution”. She also showed her concerns for the children stating that “it is something that throughout their lives will put them at risk of infections and breathing problems, all because of the air that they were breathing to and from school, to the park, just generally being out and about with their families.”
British Lung Foundation is a British charity working in the field of lung health and supports those affected by lung disease. In collaboration with the environmental law group, Client Earth, it has established the ‘Clean Air Parents’ Network’, a campaign group created with the aim to draw the attention of politicians towards the menacing issue of air pollution and to improve air quality in towns and cities.
In another survey conducted by the charity, Living Streets, pointed out those more than 2,000 primary schools are in major pollution hotspots. The shared polling data with the Observer showed that air pollution is the main concern for almost 10% of the parents when choosing a school for their children.
The detailed report was delivered to the transport minister, Jesse Norman, pointing towards the urgency of the situation and urging him to take swift action to improve the walk to school.
With all these shocking revelations, the locals seem to be contemplating over their stay in these aggravating conditions. Ben Paul, an architect who lives with his wife in the town of Bloomsbury, central London, came to this realization about air pollution after the birth of their son nine years ago.
He claimed that “we were wiping down the walls and they were coming down black.” In his own effort to make a difference, Paul joined a number of clean air campaign groups including CAPN and started monitoring air quality on his own. “Pretty much everywhere in our area was above the EU limit,” he said.
To his shocking dismay, he sees this situation as a result of the failures by local and national government to ensure that London meets the anti-pollution targets. This is quite evident from his remark, “we are at that stage where we are thinking seriously about where my son will go to school next. Do we want to stay in this area, which has not seen any serious reduction in pollution in the last five years? Some measures the mayor is bringing in will make a bit of a difference but I’m skeptical.”