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40-plus schools in Tower Hamlets border polluted roads

PUBLISHED: 15:38 21 June 2011

Busy roads near schools are putting children's health at risk, experts say

Busy roads near schools are putting children's health at risk, experts say

Archant

More than 40 schools in Tower Hamlets are within 150 metres of a dangerously polluted road, new figures show.

Parts of the East End are among the worst hit areas in London for air quality, which could place children at a higher risk of developing asthma.

Nursery and primary schools make up two thirds of those deemed to be near busy routes used by 10,000 or more vehicles each day.

Polluted roads are thought to account for around 15 to 30 per cent of all new cases of asthma in children.

As part of a recent launch to clean up the Square Mile, which borders Tower Hamlets, NHS chief Dr Lesley Mountford said poor air quality has a “significant impact on the health of people in London”.

Dr Mountford, director of public health for NHS East London and the City, added that “children in particular” were at risk.

Asthma studies in recent years have highlighted the prevalence of the condition in the East End.

Tower Hamlets had some of the highest rates of hospital admissions due to asthma in the country in 2007.

Emily Humphreys from Asthma UK said: “Two thirds of people with asthma tell us that traffic fumes make their asthma worse. This really highlights the importance of measures to improve air quality, such as congestion charging and Low Emission Zones.”

London’s Green party, which released the most recent figures and is Campaign for Clean Air, is calling for Mayor of London Boris Johnson to act.

Green London Assembly member Darren Johnson said the mayor should “reduce the total number of cars on our roads and introduce a very low emission zone which only allows the very cleanest vehicles to enter central London.”

The mayor’s environment chief, Kulveer Ranger insisted “tough measures” are being introduced to clean up emissions, such as taking 1,200 of the “dirtiest cabs” off the streets, investing in cycling and promoting walking or riding a bike to school.

Around £5 million from the government’s Clean Air Fund will also go towards green measures including bringing in 300 hybrid buses in London next year.

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