Greens want pollution masks for Tower Hamlets schoolchildren

The Green party wants children who go to schools within 150 metres of a busy road to be issued with pollution masks to protect them against harmful fumes.

Chris Smith, the party’s London Assembly candidate for City and East, said air quality is “one of the most important health issues affecting Londoners”.

Mr Smith, who lives in Bethnal Green, added: “All the research shows London has dangerously high air pollution levels, and these are normally measured at adult head height. If you go down to child’s height these levels rise even higher, and so does the possibility of illness and disease.

“I want to provide protective masks to be distributed at schools that lie within 150 metres of roads carrying over 10,000 vehicles a day.”

The Greens say more than 100 schools in the borough are dangerously close to these congested roads.

Along with the masks, the party is calling for parents to be told when there are high pollution days, more incentives for cleaner hybrid vehicles and lower bus and Tube fares to encourage people away from cars.

Fine particles from pollution cause around 4,200 premature deaths each year in the capital, according to research conducted for the Greater London Authority by the Institute of Occupational Medicine in 2010.

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Studies also show air pollution can lead to allergies, asthma and lung cancer among other illnesses.

Mr Smith headed to St Matthias School near Brick Lane with mayoral candidate Jenny Jones to launch the campaign last week.

Tower Hamlets Council said it had no plans to issue pollution masks to children.

A spokeswoman added: “We are currently reviewing innovative technological solutions to achieve positive improvements to the air quality across the borough.”