Unicef UK and Little Ninja UK

Eli & I are proud to help Unicef UK raise awareness that toxic air is damaging the health of children across the UK, putting their health and futures in danger where they live, learn and play

Our goal at Little Ninja UK is to reduce air pollution exposure for the children most at risk as they travel and attend nursery/school on main roads.

Eli is due to start primary school in September 2019 and like hundreds of thousands of children in the UK, we live in an area that breaches the annual Air Quality Objective for NO2 of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air (40ugm3).

The results of a five year study involving more than 2,000 children in London’s primary schools confirmed last year that by the age of 8-9 years old, regular exposure to NO2 of 40.7ugm3 is equivalent to a reduction in lung volume of approximately 5%.

On some of the major roads around the UK NO2 levels are two to three times the legal limit.

There are over 2000 nurseries and schools in England and Wales near roads with illegal levels of air pollution. 80% of the schools on/near major arterial routes are deprived schools. The children who attend these schools tend to walk, scoot and cycle to school so create the least yet breathe the highest levels of air pollution that stunts their lungs and shortens their lives.

Good ventilation and air filtration devices can ensure children breathe clean air at home and in the classroom. Living green walls can offer some protection in the playground and school streets can help protect children directly outside the schools on side roads and residential streets.

What about the children walking, scooting near the exhaust of congested traffic on main roads or waiting at kerbside bus shelters with vehicles idling just feet away from their faces or children forced to walk past the exhaust pipes of cars idling for 20minutes every morning outside their nursery/school?

Children are exposed to the most toxic air on congested main roads where 65%-85% of exhaust emissions can be from idling vehicles. Less idling = less air pollution = less damage to children’s health.

It doesn’t cost anything to reduce air pollution by drivers switching off their engines when stationary and waiting for the road ahead to clear, in fact as an engine restart is equivalent to less than 10 seconds of idling, drivers save money by burning less fuel.

Switching off when stationary reduces; air pollution, climate change, wear and tear on the vehicle engine, and noise pollution. It’s less stressful for the driver than repeatedly accelerating to edge forward a few feet then braking and idling. It also provides more opportunities for drivers to see all the pedestrians walking, scooting and cycling by, breathing cleaner air, which encourages them to do so too.

It appears to be a win win but just last week a Dr / clean air expert tweeted to say:

“By spending time & energy on a solution to a small part of the problem we might be diverting time and resource from tackling Air Pollution head on. Will people say it’s OK to drive because I switch my engine off?”

Though tackling idling would significantly reduce air pollution at the time of the public’s greatest exposure and protect the lungs of hundreds of thousands of children, it does not directly remove vehicles from our roads and is therefore seen by some as only a diversion of time and resource.

It appears that as quick as people are to highlight the impact of air pollution on children’s health, reducing air pollution exposure for the children at greatest risk is not the priority. These children appear to be collateral damage in the war against cars.

We will continue to fight this battle for our children’s health and for the quality and length of their lives. Please show your support by signing our petitions:

1. Stop vehicles idling outside schools, nurseries, playgrounds etc… https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-stop-vehicles-idling-near-babies-and-children-27c4cdd1-aee1-439d-8c3b-c7300d172629

2. Keep vehicles exhaust pipes at least a few meters away from the faces of children waiting at kerbside bus shelters… https://www.change.org/p/sadiq-khan-please-pilot-this-low-cost-idea-to-reduce-vehicle-emissions-children-breathe-when-travelling-on-our-busiest-roads

3. Reduce idling on the busy roads where idling is responsible for 65%-85% of air pollution.. https://www.change.org/p/sadiq-khan-reduce-children-s-exposure-to-diesel-vehicle-exhaust-at-roadside-bus-shelters

Please share these petitions and follow our campaign on YouTube & Twitter @LittleNinjaUK

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