Our schools may be the best - but there's a cloud that looms over many

Release Date: 06/03/2017

An unnecessary harmful fog of nitrogen dioxide and particulates engulfs the gates of many schools because of stationary cars and coaches - many waiting to collect children or left idling during the school run, Richmond Council warns.

These potentially deadly, but largely invisible fumes, are being breathed in by our children and young people at school gates across Richmond and the Capital. Diesel vehicles are of particular concern as levels of pollutants are generally many times greater than for petrol equivalents. The Council’s ‘Switch Off Your Engine’ Campaign launched today, is about alerting parents, families and carers of children and young people to this problem. It’s about encouraging parents to turn off their car engines if they intend to remain stationary in their vehicles, known as ‘idling’, for more than one minute as they drop off and pick up the kids during the school run.

Research has found that levels of harmful black carbon (particulates) rose by 36% in a relatively quiet residential street during the morning drop off. Children can breathe in this air on the way to the school gates.There is also a link to lung growth in children exposed to high levels of pollution. The key messages of the campaign, include:

  • Turn off your engine when stationary, loading or waiting at the roadside especially outside schools and at levels crossings
  • Reduce pollution – turning off and restarting your engine causes less pollution than keeping the engine running
  • Protect your health – turning off your engine could help reduce asthma, heart disease and lung cancer
  • Save money – idling wastes fuel and money
  • Protect your car – idling can increase wear and tear on your engine

Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Pamela Fleming, said:

“Leaving an engine running unnecessarily whilst a vehicle is stationary pollutes the air we breathe, causes unnecessary noise and costs drivers money. Switching off your engine is an easy way to help improve air quality and the health of people – particularly children in Richmond.

"Vehicles are the main source of local air pollution and walking, cycling or using public transport are great alternatives and will keep you fit and healthy. The quality of our air and the health of our residents are of paramount importance to the Council. Together we can significantly reduce the levels of pollution at the gates of schools across Richmond and improve air quality across the borough as a whole.”

If you suffer from asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or any heart or respiratory condition, receive free air pollution alerts by signing up to airText.

Updated: 6 March 2017