Media reports says about three thousand schools across the UK are based in areas with potentially dangerous levels of air pollution.
According to The Sunday Times, the schools are situated in areas where the annual nitrogen dioxide (NO2) gas emissions exceed 25 tons per square kilometer, or six times the national average.
This comes as the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has described NO2 as a “respiratory irritant which may exacerbate asthma and possibly increase susceptibility to infection.”
The Times also noted that in one primary school near Heathrow Airport, more than 200 tons of NO2 are released annually, the Times has found following an analysis of Defra data.
“Some of the most egregious examples were cited in seven schools in and around London. Though a community college in the central English city of Leicester tops the list, seven schools around the capital are among the top 10 most polluted in the country,” the Times wrote.
Emissions from diesel vehicles, trains and industry are responsible for the poor air quality in these areas. The data suggests that 38 percent of NO2 emissions in the UK are released in just 2 percent of its land area.
Experts warn that the children attending the schools are breathing polluted air for all the years they are a pupil and long-term effects of breathing in the gas may lead to development of pulmonary or heart disease.
Though emissions of nitrous oxides have fallen dramatically since 1970, the UK’s air pollution levels still remain in violation of prescribed EU limits.
In April, the UK Supreme Court urged the government to take action to curb air pollution immediately.