Deprived and BAME schoolchildren in London experience greater air pollution burden – Global Clean Air
By: Greg Slater, data analyst
Air pollution varies dramatically across London, which means not all schoolchildren have the same start in life.
Using a powerful new dataset, we found that pollution is significantly higher at primary schools with more students from deprived areas, as well as at schools with a higher proportion of students of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background. With vehicles a major contributor, pollution is also unsurprisingly elevated closest to the cities’ main roads.
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution is a toxic chemical cocktail that includes nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Road transport – especially diesel vehicles – is a major source of NOx, which can inflame airways and aggravate existing heart and lung conditions.
In fact, recent research shows living near busy roads in London, where NOx pollution is high, may stunt lung growth in children by 12.5%.
New data from the Breathe London pilot project has allowed us to look at the estimated level of NOx pollution at every London state primary school in 2019.
Our analysis reveals that air pollution does not affect all schoolchildren equally, with children from deprived neighbourhoods exposed to more pollution. When examining the deprivation level (a measure that incorporates a broad range of living conditions, including income, health and access to resources), we found that average NOx levels at schools with pupils attending from the most deprived areas were 27% higher than those at schools with pupils attending from the least deprived areas.