London schools to benefit from air filters in cleaner air initiative

School teacher with children in classroom | Hillingdon Today

In a groundbreaking move aimed at safeguarding the health of young Londoners, Mayor Sadiq Khan has unveiled plans to introduce state-of-the-art air filters in some of the capital’s most polluted schools. This initiative marks a significant step towards combating air pollution and creating healthier environments for children to learn and thrive.

PM2.5 filters, designed to tackle harmful particulate matter pollution, will be installed in every classroom of 200 selected schools across the capital later this year. This pilot project, with an initial investment of £2.7 million, is part of the Mayor’s budget for 2024/25 and is subject to approval by the London Assembly. The success of this pilot could pave the way for expanding the program to cover all schools in the city.

A research project is currently underway to identify the most suitable air filter technology for implementation. The chosen filters will trap toxic particles as air circulates, contributing to cleaner and safer indoor environments for students and staff alike. The selection of schools for the pilot project will prioritize areas with higher pollution levels and those in more deprived areas, ensuring equitable distribution across the city.

This builds upon the Mayor’s existing efforts to improve air quality in schools. Previous initiatives include pollution audits, clean air measures, and the provision of the London Schools Pollution Helpdesk, which offers tailored support and guidance to schools in polluted areas.

Transport for London has also played a role by funding and supporting the implementation of School Streets – areas around schools closed to motor traffic during drop-off and pick-up times. Analysis has shown significant reductions in nitrogen dioxide concentrations during these closures, further demonstrating the effectiveness of targeted interventions.

By combining air filter installations with existing measures such as the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and cleaner transport initiatives, Mayor Khan is taking decisive action to improve air quality and protect the health of London’s youngest residents. This comprehensive approach reflects a commitment to creating a cleaner, healthier environment for generations to come.

Mayor Khan, said: “I am doing everything in my power to stop Londoners breathing filthy poisonous air. We know that the impact of pollution on young people’s health can be particularly acute, causing lasting damage to children’s lungs. 

“Since I first became Mayor, there has been a significant reduction in the number of schools in areas which exceed the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide, but we need to make progress even further and faster. “Alongside parents and teachers, I want every single child to breathe clean air in and around their school. In those vital early years, the difference to young people’s health and wellbeing can be lifechanging.”