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Volunteers to monitor air pollution affecting children’s health get cash incentive by Tower Hamlets Council

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:13 25 May 2018

Using the 'tube' to monitor air quality at Bow Common Picture source: Reclaiming Streets

Using the 'tube' to monitor air quality at Bow Common Picture source: Reclaiming Streets

Reclaiming Streets

Projects tackling air pollution are being offered cash by Tower Hamlets Council after a study has shown lung function of children aged eight and nine has been reduced by up to 10 per cent.

Campaigners from Reclaim Streets installing air monitoring devices in St Paul's Way. Picture source: Reclaiming StreetsCampaigners from Reclaim Streets installing air monitoring devices in St Paul's Way. Picture source: Reclaiming Streets

A £200,000 fund has been opened by the mayor for community groups running programmes to monitor pollution around schools or installing charging points for electric vehicles.

A two-week project using diffusion tubes to test the air has already been taking readings along St Paul’s Way, between Burdett Road and Bromley-by-Bow, installed by the Reclaiming Streets environment group ready for lab-testing. It has been carried out ahead of the St Paul’s Way street festival on June 23 with a road closure for the first time

Pollution in the East End has reduced the lung function of children which has giving them up to 10 per cent less lung capacity than the national average which they may never get back, according to researchers from Kings College University.

“I want people to think about projects that could benefit their neighbourhoods from this funding,” Mayor John Biggs said. “Families in poorer boroughs are twice as likely to die from lung cancer and other lung diseases compared to well-off areas.”

Safe legal limits are said to be exceeded at 62 per cent of pollution monitoring sites in the East End, with six out of 20 Tower Hamlets schools exposed to high levels of nitrogen dioxide. Four out of 10 youngsters could be living in neighbourhoods with pollution exceeding EU guidelines.

Education programmes are running in schools about air pollution including a campaign to stop parents running their engines when stopping at schools to pick up their children. Idling engines can create twice the pollution as moving cars, the council points out.

Volunteers have been trained to monitor the air in their neighbourhoods using 90 diffusion vials and three monitoring stations maintained by the authority. Plans are also being drawn up to install more electric car charging points by 2025, with every household being within 500 yards of one.

Tower Hamlets is said to be the fifth-worst London borough for air pollution.

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