Ban school drop-off cars to improve pupil health, says charity

Research reveals parents are worried about air pollution outside their children's school. PICTURE:  Emma Mitchell
Research reveals parents are worried about air pollution outside their children's school. PICTURE: Emma Mitchell
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Cars should be banned from dropping pupils off at the school gates, a campaigning charity has said.

Research by Living Streets reveals two in five parents of primary school children in Scotland worry about air pollution around their chid’s school.

A third of parents said they would take pollution into consideration when choosing a school.

Over 2,000 primary schools in the UK are in pollution hotspots putting pupils’ health at risk, the charity which promotes walking for everyday local journeys, said.

Children north of the border walking to school has fallen to 43 per cent, down from 48 per cent ten years ago.

Over 1,000 parents took part in the research with concern being higher amongst younger people, with 86 per cent of respondents aged 18-24 concerned about air pollution around the school gates, reducing down to just 32 per cent of 45-54 year olds.

Polluted air currently contributes to approximately 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK.

Air pollution is harmful to everyone but for children, the risk to their health is higher as their exposure is much greater and they absorb and retain pollutants in the body for longer.

Stuart Hay, director, Living Streets Scotland said local authorities and schools should work together to encourage walking to school.

“We would like a ban on people driving up to the school gate - adding to air pollution, congestion and road danger during drop off and pick up.

“Walking to school not only improves our air quality but is a great way for children to build more exercise into their daily lives, helping them to arrive to school healthier, happier and ready to learn.”

READ MORE: Millions of UK children worry about air pollution near school

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We take air pollution very seriously and are committed to protecting the public from the effects of poor air quality. Compared to the rest of the UK and other parts of Europe, Scotland enjoys a high level of air quality, but we cannot be complacent.

“Whilst it is for local authorities to manage the school estate, we are working closely with them to deliver a network of Low Emission Zones in cities, which will improve public health by reducing pollution. Our Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy sets out an ambitious programme of action to promote air quality and Scotland is the first country in Europe to pass legislation based on World Health Organisation guidelines for fine particulate matter.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We take air pollution very seriously and are committed to protecting the public from the effects of poor air quality. Compared to the rest of the UK and other parts of Europe, Scotland enjoys a high level of air quality, but we cannot be complacent.

“Whilst it is for local authorities to manage the school estate, we are working closely with them to deliver a network of Low Emission Zones in cities, which will improve public health by reducing pollution. Our Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy sets out an ambitious programme of action to promote air quality and Scotland is the first country in Europe to pass legislation based on World Health Organisation guidelines for fine particulate matter.”