Air pollution at 66 Tower Hamlets schools over EU limits, report reveals

air pollution london
Exposed: report uncovered links between levels of air pollution and deprivation. Photograph: David Holt via Flickr

Air pollution levels at 66 Tower Hamlets primary schools breached EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a newly emerged report has revealed.

An air quality report said that in 2010 a total of 433 of London’s 1,777 primary schools were located in areas where NO2 pollution exceeded EU limits.

Of those 433 schools, 66 were in Tower Hamlets.

Canon Barnett, English Martyrs Roman Catholic and Woolmore Primary Schools were three of the four worst hit schools for nitrogen dioxide levels.

The school with the highest level of NO2 pollution was Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary, just across the border in the City of London.

The figures appeared in Analysing Air Pollution Exposure in London, an air quality report by independent consultancy Aether.

Tower Hamlets – along with Camden, Southwark, Islington and City of Westminster – was found to be in particular need of “targeted action to reduce inequalities in access to clean air”.

Of the 433 identified schools, 83 per cent were in “deprived” areas.

Researchers found that in 2010, residents in the city’s most deprived boroughs, including Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham, tended on average to be more exposed to poor air quality than those in wealthier areas.

The report was commissioned in early 2013 by the Greater London Authority (GLA) whilst Boris Johnson was London Mayor. It was completed in September that year but never published.

Now the former Conservative mayor has been criticised by his Labour successor, Sadiq Khan, for leaving the “shocking report” unreleased.

A spokesperson for Mayor Khan said: “This shocking report reveals a snapshot of the true impact that our polluted air has on some of London’s most vulnerable communities.

“It is difficult to understand why the last mayoralty decided to cover it up and not fully release it in 2013 – they clearly didn’t want Londoners to know the dire state of pollution in the capital.”

Mayor Khan promised to clean up London’s toxic air during a visit to Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary School in Aldgate last week.

Although the number of affected schools is expected to reduce significantly by 2020, there is still a “clear disparity” between deprived and non-deprived schools, the report said.

Caroline Russell, a Green party London assembly member, said: “Children are at risk of reduced lung capacity and are particularly vulnerable to developing asthma from excessive vehicular pollution. It is staggering that Boris Johnson sat on this report for two and a half years.”

Of the 1,344 schools located in areas below the pollution limit, less than a fifth were in deprived areas.

A Tower Hamlets Council spokesperson said: “Whilst today’s report shows that air quality levels in parts of London are low, we do everything we can to ensure that exposure to air pollution in the borough is mitigated through Tower Hamlets policy – particularly where children are involved.

“We ensure the design and operation of schools do not increase exposure to air pollution, and mitigate exposure through measures including the promotion of sustainable travel and low emission technology.

“We run environmental projects in schools across the borough to create awareness and educate them about the dangers of air pollution.”

The council also offers a free health service, airTEXT, which advises residents on reducing their exposure to air pollution.

The 66 Tower Hamlets schools and average surrounding NO2 concentration in 2010 were:

Canon Barnett Primary School 69.23
English Martyrs Roman Catholic Primary School 68.81
Woolmore Primary School 66.45
Holy Family Catholic School 61.59
Christ Church CofE School 56.89
Mayflower Primary School 56.59
Culloden Primary School 55.89
St Paul’s Whitechapel Church of England Primary School 55.4
Shapla Primary School 55.4
Harry Gosling Primary School 54.26
Kobi Nazrul Primary School 52.71
Blue Gate Fields Junior School 50.93
Blue Gate Fields Infants’ School 50.93
Bygrove Primary School 50.66
Cyril Jackson Primary School 50.23
Marner Primary School 50.2
St Matthias Church of England Primary School 50.03
Virginia Primary School 49.29
Guardian Angels Roman Catholic Primary School 48.54
St Mary and St Michael Primary School 48.53
Our Lady Roman Catholic Primary School 47.85
St Anne’s Catholic Primary School 47.79
Bigland Green Primary School 47.69
William Davis Primary School 47.39
St Agnes RC Primary School 47.05
Hermitage Primary School 46.93
Lansbury Lawrence Primary School 46.85
Sir William Burrough Primary School 46.73
Seven Mills Primary School 46.68
Osmani Primary School 46.53
Marion Richardson Primary School 46.16
Thomas Buxton Primary School 46.01
St John’s Church of England Primary School 45.94
Old Palace Primary School 44.74
Globe Primary School 44.62
St Paul with St Luke CofE Primary School 44.58
Elizabeth Selby Infants’ School 44.49
Stewart Headlam Primary School 44.42
Columbia Primary School 44.38
Bonner Primary School 44.31
The Stepney Greencoat Church of England Primary School 44.2
Arnhem Wharf Primary School 44.06
Hague Primary School 43.94
The Clara Grant Primary School 43.75
Lawdale Junior School 43.56
Redlands Primary School 43.3
Bangabandhu Primary School 43.23
St Peter’s London Docks CofE Primary School 43.11
St Saviour’s Church of England Primary School 42.94
Smithy Street School 42.86
St Edmund Roman Catholic School 42.85
John Scurr Primary School 42.81
Stebon Primary School 42.35
Mowlem Primary School 42.2
Cubitt Town Junior School 41.94
Cubitt Town Infants’ School 41.94
Manorfield Primary School 41.85
St Elizabeth Catholic Primary School 41.6
Halley Primary School 41.56
Harbinger Primary School 41.53
Olga Primary School 41.44
Cayley Primary School 41.14
Chisenhale Primary School 40.97
Wellington Primary School 40.74
Ben Jonson Primary School 40.59
Old Ford Primary School 40.14

  1. Muhammad Haque on Wednesday 18 May 2016 at 11:16 am

    If air pollution is a danger to health then so is a culture of social cleanings that is being operated by Tower Hamlets Council.

    Here is what Social Exclusion and Cleansing FELT like in Tower Hamlets:

    1. Resident accidentally locks themselves out of their flat.
    2. It being early in the morning no sign of help is visible.
    3. By the time help is found, the information comes back from a supposed phone call to the “Council” that Tower Hamlets Council does NOT help residents who are not tenants of a Council property.
    4. The resident is not a tenant in a Council property – though the flat is ex-Council now ‘owned’ by private capitalist who lives outside of Tower Hamlets
    5. Another call is made to 999 who say that Resident must call private locksmith etc.
    6. Resident has no access to phone nor can check any internet directory of likely locksmiths
    7. Resident not wearing enough clothing to witnessed the freezing temperature they are feeling already
    8. Another local person tells resident that private locksmiths usually come and charge £100.00 to let any such person finds these,vs locked out by accident.

    Social Cleansing in Tower Hamlets is a more direct threat to health and safety than could be imagined.

    1115 Hrs GMT London Wednesday 18 May 2016



  2. Muhammad Haque on Wednesday 18 May 2016 at 11:17 am

    If air pollution is a danger to health then so is a culture of Social Cleansing that is being operated by Tower Hamlets Council.

    Here is what Social Exclusion and Cleansing FELT like in Tower Hamlets:

    1. Resident accidentally locks themselves out of their flat.
    2. It being early in the morning no sign of help is visible.
    3. By the time help is found, the information comes back from a supposed phone call to the “Council” that Tower Hamlets Council does NOT help residents who are not tenants of a Council property.
    4. The resident is not a tenant in a Council property – though the flat is ex-Council now ‘owned’ by private capitalist who lives outside of Tower Hamlets
    5. Another call is made to 999 who say that Resident must call private locksmith etc.
    6. Resident has no access to phone nor can check any internet directory of likely locksmiths
    7. Resident not wearing enough clothing to witnessed the freezing temperature they are feeling already
    8. Another local person tells resident that private locksmiths usually come and charge £100.00 to let any such person finds these,vs locked out by accident.

    Social Cleansing in Tower Hamlets is a more direct threat to health and safety than could be imagined.

    1117 Hrs GMT London Wednesday 18 May 2016



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