WSP, the engineering and professional services consultancy, has concluded a programme of air pollution audits in twenty London nurseries with results presented to the Mayor at Columbia Market Nursery in Tower Hamlets.
Following baseline air quality monitoring at each of the nurseries, WSP provided recommendations for improving air quality in and around the nurseries, where in some cases, air pollution exceeded the legal limit.
Such recommendations ranged from the introduction of school streets (restricted vehicle access), measures to promote sustainable transport, discouraging engine idling, planting to create green screening around the playground and improvements to insulation and boilers.
Air Filtration Systems
A further consideration was the potential effectiveness of air filtration systems in nurseries. Whilst air filtration is a proven technology in many settings and sectors, the dynamic environment posed by nurseries is a particularly challenging one, as windows and doors are almost permanently open, and children free-flow between classrooms and the playground.
The classrooms that served as the testing ground for the trial demonstrated a positive impact upon the nursery indoor air quality, reducing PM2.5 and in some cases NO2.
However, the report notes the current lack of common performance standards for the air filtration systems as a whole and concluded that urgent action is needed by the government in order to establish these standards in order for schools and nurseries to make informed decision of their use.
Following these recommendations, the Mayor wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, George Eustice, and the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, calling on the Government to urgently address this in order to help educational establishments and local authorities make a more informed choice about whether to install an air filtration systems.
Matt Croucher, Associate Director at WSP, said: “WSP is proud to have supported the GLA in this important programme. Delivering improvements to air quality at our schools and nurseries is a complex challenge which requires a truly multi-disciplinary approach. Our team developed a holistic package of measures to reduce emissions and lessen exposure to harmful pollutants in and around the nurseries, drawing on our expertise in transport planning, air quality, buildings and energy.
“In undertaking the air quality audits, we met with a passionate group of individuals representing both the nurseries and the borough councils who were eager to make a difference, and enthusiastic about delivering a range of solutions to improve local air quality for the children and the wider community as a whole.”