EarthSense, the air quality specialist, partnered with charity Global Action Plan to investigate pupils’ exposure to air pollution at school for Clean Air Day (17June 2021)
Global Action Plan used EarthSense’s MappAir® air quality model in its study to explore how school children around the UK are exposed to ambient air pollutants nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM2.5).
EarthSense used longitude and latitude coordinates for each school site to extract data from the MappAir® annual average air quality dataset. Using this information, EarthSense provided details about which schools are located in areas with potentially unsafe levels of air pollution.
The data used for the investigation uses average concentration values for NO2 and PM2.5, pollutants which are known to be harmful to human health, calculated between January and December 2019.
EarthSense’s MappAir® annual average air quality model uses information from a range of inputs including Zephyr® air quality sensor measurements, traffic data, weather data, and reference site data to model concentrations of air pollution at areas of interest at a nationwide resolution. This information can be used to understand how populations are exposed to certain air pollutants on an everyday basis.
The MappAir® air quality model also provides historic air pollution data and up to three-day forecasts for identifying pollution concentrations in advance. This helps users to better understand pollution spikes, trends, and sources, allowing for improved future planning and initiatives to reduce exposure.
Dr. Roland Leigh, Technical Director at EarthSense said: “Using data extracted from our national annual average model, we found that over a quarter of schools in the UK are in areas exceeding World Health Organisation (WHO) limits. Children are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to air pollution with damage to lungs at a young age likely to impact health throughout their lifetime.
“These findings show that we need to work towards a place where we can guarantee that children are being taught in areas with safe air quality. Our national average data is a validated and credible source for finding out which locations across large areas are experiencing levels above advisory or regulatory limits. This information means we can improve future planning to safeguard children’s health,” continued Leigh.
Larissa Lockwood, Director at Clean Air at Global Action Plan said: “The fact that 27% of UK schools are above WHO air pollution limits is extremely alarming. Air pollution is not a fact of life. If we all do our bit, it can be solved with collaborative action and education.
We have seen the power of Clean Air Day to unite a movement, to bring confidence to talk about the importance of tackling air pollution even in trying times, and to push for change, but it can’t stop there. EarthSense’s data analysis shows we must all come together - individuals, schools, businesses, local authorities across the UK to collectively act and seize this moment we can create and support change, for good.” continued Lockwood.