Friday, March 10, 2017

Something in the Redbridge Air

You've probably seen the report in the Guardian - it has the NO2 "readings" for all the schools in London. The list shows that Redbridge has very few that breach legal limits, but an awful lot that are not much better, or so they say. The Ilford Recorder took up the story last week, see here.

But things are afoot. Many schools are taking up the challenge of air pollution.

Since the beginning of January this year, both Downshall and Aldborough Primary Schools have been working enthusiastically on a project called Redbridge Air Action, which aims to improve air quality locally. In total there are six Redbridge schools taking part in a project funded by the London Mayor and Redbridge Council.

Year 5 pupils in both schools have been engaged in lessons and workshops to measure the air quality in the area around the schools and were reporting on their findings this afternoon (10 March) at a special “Air Action Conference” in the presence of the man responsible for air quality in Redbridge - Cllr John Howard, the Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability and the Redbridge Mayor, Cllr Gurdial Bhamra. Here’s what they the Mayor arrived in … parked inside the school perimeter. Cllr John walked from Ilford.


Pollution experiments included the use of diffusion tubes, which measure NO2 and particulate matter, that were placed in a wide area around the school and included places where low readings would be expected; to give a benchmark. Despite the moderate figures published in the Guardian report above (which are estimates based on models), all local recordings (actual measurements) were above the legal limit, some twice the limit. The children were also introduced to Lichen as an indicator of air pollution.

In addition to the air pollution experiments, Junior Travel Ambassadors and Eco Team pupils in both schools have been developing a Walking Zone Map to encourage more walking, cycling and scooting to school. This asks parents and visitors to park away from the school gates and walk the rest of the route in, therefore reducing air pollution caused by cars directly outside (or even inside) the school gates, as well as increasing levels of active travel to school. Here's some artwork on the school railings ...


Meanwhile, further afield, we hear the extraordinary news that our government has classified the Dartford Crossing as a “Rural Road”. It would appear that “incompetence” was included in the Job Specification. Or maybe it’s just an “alternative fact”.

And last week in London’s Leicester Square an advertising banner, made with a new material called “The Breath” which it is claimed absorbs harmful pollution and disperses cleaner air, was unveiled. Whilst we would not wish to inhibit the onward march of innovation and technology, this is what is known in medical circles as “tackling the symptoms and not the cause”.

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