London, Feb 25 (IANS) Tens of thousands of children at over 800 schools, nurseries and colleges in London are being exposed to illegal levels of air pollution that risk causing lifelong health problems, a media report said on Saturday.
A study identified 802 educational institutions where pupils as young as three are being exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide that breach
European Union (EU) legal limits and which the government accepts are harmful to health, the Guardian said in the report.
The study, commissioned by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, suggests thousands more children and young people are at risk from toxic air than previously thought.
Khan said the results were devastating and warned that it was the capital's poorest children who were bearing the brunt of the air pollution crisis.
"It is an outrage that more than 800 schools, nurseries and other educational institutions are in areas breaching legal air pollution limits," he said.
"This is an environmental challenge, a public health challenge but also - and no one talks about this - it is fundamentally an issue of social justice. If you are a poor Londoner you are more likely to suffer from illegal air."
Khan called for the government to introduce a clean air act and for a diesel scrappage scheme to take polluting cars off the road quickly, the Guardian report added.
The study shows 802 out of 3,261 nurseries, primary and secondary schools and higher education colleges, are within 150 metres of nitrogen dioxide pollution levels that exceed the EU legal limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air.
A third of state nursery schools in the capital (27), nearly 20 per cent of primaries (360) and 18 per cent of secondary schools (79) are in areas where toxic levels of nitrogen dioxide threaten children's health.
Of the further education colleges in the capital, 43 per cent (30) were in areas of illegally toxic levels of nitrogen dioxide.
The study, based on modelling of data from 2013, was carried out by experts from the environmental research group at King's College London and Aether, the environmental data analysts.