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Battle to save children from health impacts of air pollution

– Air pollution has reduced the lung function of eight and nine year olds in Tower Hamlets by up to 10 per cent. They may never get that back.
– 40 per cent of residents live in areas where pollution levels exceed EU guidance.
– Tower Hamlets is the fifth worst area in London for pollution – meaning there are four areas in the capital that are worse for nitrogen dioxide and particulate pollution.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets has announced £200,000 of funding for residents and community groups to help deliver projects that tackle air pollution.  The new funding will support projects that help monitor pollution levels around schools, introduce charging points for electric vehicles and help raise awareness about the impact air pollution can have on health.

Air pollution particularly affects the most vulnerable in society – children and older people, and those with heart and lung conditions. It is known to thicken blood, thicken arteries and make strokes or heart attacks more likely.

Research from Kings College University has shown that pollution in Tower Hamlets has reduced the lung function of eight and nine year olds, giving them five to ten per cent less lung capacity than the national average – and they may never get that back.

40 per cent of Tower Hamlets residents live in areas where pollution levels exceed EU guidance.

The main cause of pollution in Tower Hamlets comes from vehicles on the road. It currently has the fifth worst pollution levels in London.

Mayor Biggs said:

“It is shocking that there is an air quality lottery in London.  Residents from poorer boroughs are twice as likely to die from lung cancer and other lung diseases compared to people in London’s most well-off boroughs.

“We are working with the health services, Transport for London and our key partners to get people out of their cars and to help introduce cleaner forms of transport across the borough.

“I would urge residents to find out what they can do locally to protect children from the dangers of air pollution, and to think about projects that could benefit their neighbourhoods through this funding.”

Councillor Rachel Blake, Cabinet Member for Air Quality added:

“We are committed to doing allow we can to improve air quality in Tower Hamlets.

“Air pollution that exceeds recommended levels negatively impacts on our residents’ health and our environment.

“This funding is a great opportunity for residents to get involved in developing projects that can make a real difference to their local community.”

Mayor Biggs’ It is part of the borough’s wider Breathe Clean campaign, which includes work by the council, the NHS, Transport for London (TfL) and environmental charities to reduce pollution levels.

So far, the campaign has launched education programmes in schools to raise awareness about air pollution and its health impacts, and put in place anti-idling initiatives outside schools. Idling can create twice as much air-pollution as a car in motion and can be detrimental to children in the playground.
Residents have been trained how to monitor air pollution in their neighbourhoods and 70 volunteers now measure pollution levels around the borough. This adds to 90 diffusion vials and three static monitoring stations that are monitored by the council in the borough.
The council also has plans to scale up the number of electric cars in the borough, and by 2025, every household should have a point within 500 metres of their home by 2025.