Tens of thousands of children at more than 800 schools, nurseries and colleges in London are being exposed to illegal levels of air pollution that risk causing lifelong health problems, the Guardian can disclose.
A study identifies 802 educational institutions where pupils as young as three are being exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide that breach EU legal limits and which the government accepts are harmful to health.
The research, commissioned by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, suggests thousands more children and young people are at risk from toxic air than previously thought.
Khan said the results were devastating and warned that it was the capital’s poorest children who were bearing the brunt of the air pollution crisis.
“It is an outrage that more than 800 schools, nurseries and other educational institutions are in areas breaching legal air pollution limits,” he said.
“This is an environmental challenge, a public health challenge but also – and no one talks about this – it is fundamentally an issue of social justice. If you are a poor Londoner you are more likely to suffer from illegal air.”
Khan called for the government to introduce a clean air act and for a diesel scrappage scheme to take polluting cars off the road quickly.
Additional reporting by Caelainn Barr