With more than 10 million children attending public schools in the UK alone, it’s easy to forget that they are consistently exposed to a variety of health risks due to air pollution. Children are especially vulnerable because their smaller lungs can’t filter out polluted air as efficiently as adults can. We are all used to the build-up of traffic around schools at drop-off and pick-up times, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
To protect children from the harmful effects of air pollution, it is essential for schools to reduce emissions by implementing clean transportation strategies. From switching to electric buses and cars, shared transport, and bike-friendliness programs, there are many ways that schools can help create cleaner air for our kids and communities. Here, Luke Ryan, General Manager - UK Education at Zeelo will explore the importance of reducing air pollution around schools through clean transport and how we can make this happen.
The Effects Of Air Pollution On Children
Air pollution has a range of negative health effects on children. Studies have shown that exposure to high levels of air pollution can lead to a number of respiratory problems in children, including asthma and bronchitis. Air pollution has also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and other health problems.
In addition to the direct health effects of air pollution, exposure to polluted air can also lead to developmental problems in children. Studies1 have found that air pollution can adversely affect cognitive development, learning, and behaviour in children. Additionally, exposure to air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
There are lots of harmful pollutants in the air we breathe. A recent study by Asthma+Lung UK2 found that nearly one-third of all schools and colleges are located in areas with dangerously high levels of air pollution. Especially frightening is the number of educational institutions (27% of all schools and colleges) at risk because their location offers higher concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). This is beyond the World Health Organization's guidance and poses a huge threat to our children's lungs.
Given the range of negative health effects associated with air pollution, it is essential that steps are taken to reduce emissions around schools. One way to do this is by promoting cleaner transport options such as walking, biking, and shared or public transportation. This not only reduces emissions but also provides other benefits such as improved fitness and mental health.
The Benefits Of Greener Transport
There are many additional benefits to clean transport, but the most important is the reduction in air pollution. Air pollution is a leading cause of respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, and can also lead to other health problems. By reducing the amount of pollution emitted from vehicles, we can improve the quality of the air around schools and protect children’s health.
Other benefits of clean transport include reduced noise pollution and congestion, as well as lower emissions of greenhouse gases. These all contribute to making our cities more liveable and sustainable. As the UK continues to find its new normal, we must ask how much of the old world it's okay for us to return to. The solution might seem obvious to some, but when you consider the environmental problems that have come about recently, we can no longer dismiss them. In the UK, annual commute-related CO2 emissions total 18 billion kg - and this is only one country! But we're not without hope. Schools around the UK are finding new and sustainable ways for commuters and their families to travel to school in order to reduce carbon emissions and meet sustainability goals.
There are a number of ways to reduce school pollution, but one of the most effective is to switch to cleaner forms of transportation. School buses can be a source of pollution around schools, but they don’t have to be. Electric school buses produce zero emissions and can significantly reduce harmful air pollutants in and around schools.
The answer may be something that schools are very familiar with, but it’s the technology management platforms that are making the difference. In theory, coaches and buses can remove a number of cars from the road, but we know that with poor routing, unreliable service times and poor technology, parents and pupils are lacking the trust for such services. But what we are seeing today in the school transport industry is something to be excited about.
Zeelo's buses take cars off the road, which means there are less cars in the vicinity of schools. This is great because it means there are fewer traffic and carbon emissions near your school. Additionally, this might effectively reduce the school's carbon footprint by up to five tonnes per month-or more if they use more than one bus service! Imagine a world where our schools can teach maths, reading and science in healthy green zones where there are fewer cars and, more importantly, less pollution from cars. That would be awesome, right?