United Kingdom

Figures show 27% of UK's schools are in areas with lower air quality levels than WHO guidelines

Experts have raised fears for children's health after research revealed more than a quarter of UK schools are above air pollution limits.

Data shows that 27 per cent of the UK's 28,965 schools are located in areas which have higher levels of pollution than World Health Organisation limits.

The findings, released by the charity Global Action Plan on Clean Air Day today, looked at PM2.5 – fine particular matter – which can cross from the lungs into the blood and cause conditions such as heart and lung disease.

Experts have raised fears for children's health after data showed 27% of the UK's 28,965 schools are in areas which have higher levels of pollution than WHO limits (stock image) 

The WHO's limit is ten micrograms per cubic metre of air – anything higher poses a health risk. Of the 7,852 schools above this, 98 per cent are in England.

It included nurseries, primaries, secondaries and sixth forms.

Regions with the most schools above the threshold include the South East, making up 28 per cent of the total, and London, at 25 per cent.

Dr Maria Neira, director at WHO, said: 'These figures are unequivocally too high and harming children's health.'

The World Health Organisation's limit is ten micrograms per cubic metre of air – anything higher poses a health risk. Of the 7,852 schools above this, 98% are in England (stock image)

'Schools should be safe places of learning, not places where students are at risk of health hazards. There is no safe level of air pollution, and if we care about our children and their future, air pollution limits should reflect WHO guidelines.'

Larissa Lockwood, Director of Clean Air at Global Action Plan said: 'The fact that 27 per cent of UK schools are above WHO air pollution limits is extremely alarming.

'Air pollution is not a fact of life. If we all do our bit, it can be solved with collaborative action and education.'

The figures come as today marks Clean Air Day, the theme of which is 'protect our children's health from air pollution'.

Global Action Plan are calling on individuals, schools, businesses and local authorities to make changes in order to create an environment 'where children can learn and play free from the damaging effects of air pollution'. 

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