Introducing School Streets Can Slash Air Pollution near Children

Although it has been implicated repeatedly that air pollution can lead to asthma in children, researchers continue to conduct studies that would provide them with reliable evidence. Earlier this year, an evidence review by the US Health Effects Institute linked children’s asthma and traffic pollution clearer with stronger evidence.

Four years ago, an experiment where 248 school children were provided with rucksacks that they wore for one week showed how the children breathed in more toxic air while travelling to and from school, by car, compared to when they walked along congestion-free roads. Schoolchildren who walked along congested main roads were the most vulnerable and exposed.

It is clear that air pollution has a significant effect on school children and that specific measures must be implemented to help lessen their exposure to toxic air. Encouraging children to walk to school through uncongested roads is a good start.

The idea of closing the roads surrounding schools to traffic during drop-off and pick-up has been around since 1989. Bolzano, a town in Italy, had School Streets outside the school. They also had open areas for cycling and walking. As a result of the implementation of the scheme, the number of accidents in Bolzano decreased significantly.

School Streets have also been in effect in Scotland since 2015 while London started its first scheme in 2017.

According to a report provided by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, School Streets reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels by at least 23%. The Child Health Initiative’s Global Advocacy Hub, on the other hand, revealed through a global analysis that School Streets are a significant help in providing school children and their parents with safer and cleaner trips to schools.

There are more than 1000 School Streets schemes worldwide distributed in around 12 countries. More than half of these schemes are in the UK with the others located in France, Belgium, Canada, Italy, and the US. Spain has a similar scheme in effect.

As of April 2022, England has a total of over 650 School Streets.

What do School Streets schemes do?

School Streets schemes close off or restrict entry on roads surrounding or outside of a school during the busiest times of the day – drop-off and pick-up. One school, for example, closed off its adjacent side street during the indicated hours. They are not implemented on main roads, where the ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emissions Zone) and CAZ (Clean Air Zones) are followed.

Road signs, automatic number plate recognition cameras, and temporary bollards are used to enforce traffic restrictions.

With School Streets, children are encouraged to cycle or walk to school.

A study on the School Streets’ benefits and their effects on air quality used Breathe London network’s top-of-the-line sensors for monitoring. These were distributed in around 18 primary schools, including those in Lambeth, Enfield, and Brent. The monitoring project started in September 2020 and is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the FIA Foundation.

Why emissions are bad

Road transport emissions are dangerous and have life-changing impacts on your health. Nitrogen oxide or NOx, which diesel vehicles emit, contains NO2 and NO or nitric oxide. It is responsible for the smog that sometimes covers towns or cities with toxic air.

NOx also produces acid rain and ground-level ozone when it reacts with other elements. Ground-level ozone is a pollutant that affects vegetation. Plants and crops that are exposed to it weaken over time until they are damaged.

NOx emissions have negative effects on both your cognitive health and mental health. Exposure to nitrogen oxide can make your cognitive abilities weaker, so you’ll become more vulnerable to dementia. Exposure may also trigger depression and anxiety.

The life-changing effects of NOx emissions, however, have to do with your health. The most common impacts are asthma and respiratory diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis, shortness of breath, and pulmonary oedema.

High-level exposure can lead to serious health impacts, such as chronic lung function reduction, asphyxiation and laryngospasm, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Constant exposure to high levels of NOx may also lead to premature death.

These impacts are a major reason why the diesel emissions scandal is considered the greatest scam in the global automotive industry.

The Dieselgate scandal

The Volkswagen Group received a Notice of Violation from US authorities in September 2015 after defeat devices were allegedly discovered in Audi and VW diesel vehicles across America. Defeat devices can sense when a vehicle goes into testing so it can temporarily reduce emissions to within the limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Defeat device-equipped vehicles may appear clean and safe but when they are taken out for real road driving, they emit massive and unlawful amounts of NOx. They are high-polluting vehicles that violate emissions regulations.

Aside from Volkswagen, other carmakers have also been accused of using defeat devices, including UK-based Vauxhall.

Authorities believe that carmakers should be held responsible for their illegal actions, and this can be done through a diesel claim.

What is my diesel claim?

A diesel claim is legal action against your carmaker for installing defeat devices. A successful claim will compensate you, the amount of which will depend on the circumstances of your case.

Before you can file your Vauxhall emissions claim, however, you should first visit to verify if you are qualified to receive compensation. You’ll find all the information you need to start your claim from them.

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