A kid-approved way to avoid toxic air — and keep lungs + brains healthy.
The walk to and from school is the most air-toxic time for kids. As much as 60% of the pollution they breathe in is from the school run and playground.
Toxic air can harm their lungs, damage the development of their brains and stunt their growth. More kids than ever now suffer from asthma.
Instead of waiting for the government to solve the problem (which is taking ages!), kids are coming to the rescue themselves!
Year 4 kids from a Stoke Newington school in London, where pollution levels exceed the legal limit, have become Clean Air Experts. They discovered that walking just one road back from a main road can mean up to 50% less toxic air exposure.
It’s a seriously simple solution:
(and a much nicer walk to and from school too!)
Using the kid’s own art, an easy-to-follow, Clean Air For Kids Map has been created for Stoke Newington families. It shows which roads are under the legal limit for pollution. It also maps out low pollution routes to and from favourite places like the school or park… and no, the routes don’t take much longer if you’re in a rush!
Stick it to your fridge or on your school noticeboard… Leaflets are easily lost, but this map is for keeps.
• As much as 60% of a child’s pollution exposure comes from their walk to and from school and time in the playground.
• Children are shorter so they’re closer to exhaust tailpipes and breathe in even more pollution than adults.
• Pollution levels can be 9 to 12 times higher inside a car than outside on the pavement.
• Choose quiet routes rather than main roads. This alone can cut pollution exposure by up to 50%.
• If you need to take a main road, walk on the side of the pavement that’s furthest from the cars: it’s less polluted.
• Active travel: help improve local air quality by walking, cycling or taking public transport, rather than driving.
Leaflets tend to get read and then ditched. But these beautiful hand-drawn maps by the local children are designed to be kept by families, stuck up on the fridge, and displayed in notice boards at the school.
Thanks to all the wonderful year 4 Clean Air Experts who came up with low pollution route ideas and produced many of the lovely drawings for this map. Here is some of the artwork from their pollution and map class.