Published: 00:01, 09 April 2014
The health of thousands of children could be at risk because they go to schools near to heavily-polluted roads, it has been claimed.
An analysis by the Green party shows that more than 7,000 pupils go to schools in Kent within 150m of roads that carry 10,000 vehicles each day.
The data comes after Kent was among the worst-affected areas when air pollution levels rose to dangerously high levels last week.
Green MEP Keith Taylor, who collated the figures and is due to visit Canterbury today, said: “This report makes clear just how many children in Kent are going to school near busy roads that are likely to be very polluted. It’s abundantly clear that action is needed.
Many of our towns and cities need to radically rethink the way they are dealing with air pollution.”
According to the figures, there are 3,069 children at seven primary and special schools within 150m of a polluted road and five secondary schools with 4,141 pupils.
Road traffic is the largest source of air pollution in the UK, with emissions from vehicles regarded as particularly dangerous to human health.
Research has shown that living near heavy traffic points - where roads carry 10,000 or more cars daily - can be attributed to 15-30% of new asthma cases in children, as well as affecting the development of lung capacity.
Ed Davey, the climate change minister, said on a visit to Maidstone last week that the country would have to get used to more days when pollution levels were high.
“A lot of carbon emissions are coming from the same sources; they are pollutants that really damage lungs, get into people’s arteries and damage blood supplies. We really have to tackle these things and if we don’t, clearly things are going to get worse.”
Kent's pollution blackspots
The five secondary schools near pollution blackspots are: The Leigh Technology School in Dartford; Highworth Grammar School for Girls in Ashford; St Anselms Catholic School, Canterbury; The Westlands School in Sittingbourne; and St George’s Church of England Foundation School, Gravesend.
The seven primary schools are: Mundella Primary School; Folkestone; St Thomas Catholic Primary, Canterbury; Riverhead Infant School in Maidstone; Wells Free School, Tunbridge Wells; St Mary’s Church of England Primary, Ashford; York Road Junior Academy, Herne Bay; St Peters Methodist Primary School, Canterbury.