Climate Action

Public Health England makes plea to ban cars near schools

New evidence from the Public Health England (PHE) has highlighted the effects of pollution from cars.

  • 12 March 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

New evidence from the Public Health England (PHE) has highlighted the effects of pollution from cars.

The review informs local and national governments on actions to improve outdoor air quality and health. Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with around 28,000 to 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure.

The report sets out a number of ways that local authorities can improve air quality. PHE suggests boosting investment in clean transport and promoting a faster uptake of low emission vehicles.

PHE also recommends redesigning cities so people aren’t so close to highly polluting roads. They also want to discourage highly polluting vehicles from entering populated areas. This would include introducing no-idling zones outside schools.

Children are most at risk from air pollution because they breathe more rapidly than adults, so they absorb more pollutants. A recent WHO report found that over 90 per cent of children are breathing in toxic air every day. The report states that introducing these no-idling zones will reduce children’s exposure to these pollutants.

Professor Paul Cosford, Director of Health Protection and Medical Director at PHE, said: “Now is our opportunity to create a clean air generation of children, by implementing interventions in a coordinated way. By making new developments clean by design we can create a better environment for everyone, especially our children.”

The UK Government has recently published their new Clean Air Strategy, this includes introducing a ban on sales of the most polluting fuels. At present, all sales of petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned by 2040, environmentalists and MPs have called for this to be brought forward to 2030 to ensure the impact of pollution is minimised as quickly as possible.

Read the full report here.