Three quarters of parents in Britain wants to see extra measures put in place to protect children from air pollution.
A poll conducted by YouGov for environmental lawyers ClientEarth, based on latest government figures, has revealed nearly 1,000 schools are next to or near roads with harmful levels of noxious traffic fumes.
The organisation has launched its own postcode tool through which parents can find out if their child’s school is one of those on the list.
ClientEarth air quality lawyer Alan Andrews said: “Thousands of children in this country are playing in playgrounds near illegally polluted roads. This is a legal and moral failing of our political leaders that puts children’s health at risk at a time when they are still growing and therefore vulnerable. Naturally, parents want something to be done. So do we.”
As part of the Poisoned Playgrounds campaign, a powerful video featuring young children from two schools playing while wearing gas masks has been released online.
Billboard ads will also go up in some of the most polluted towns and cities across the country, with details of the number of schools in their area near illegally polluted roads.
Katie Horwood, headteacher at Chestnuts Primary in Haringey, north London, said: “We have a duty to protect the health of children who attend the school. As well as educating them in class, we need to let them exercise in the playground.
“Pupils should be able to breathe healthy air when they are outside, but like many schools we have busy roads nearby and there seems to be a collective failure of those in power to take action to protect young people’s lives and lungs.
“While we, as a school, are doing what we can, it needs action from government to persuade drivers, particularly those with diesels, to use cleaner forms of transport and ultimately ensure that there is less traffic on roads near playgrounds.”
She said there should be better monitoring systems in place for keeping an eye on pollution levels, particularly…