London school pupils build filters for their own classrooms

Image: Mums for Lungs

Pupils in London concerned with the city’s poor air quality have taken matters into their own hands by building their school’s own air filters.

Elmgreen School in south London is located almost right next to one of the city’s most polluted roads, which has high levels of PM2.5, tiny particles closely linked to conditions like asthma and lung cancer.

So a group of teenagers got together to come up with the devices, using kits costing around £200, that use smart technology. With the help of the Mums for Lungs campaign group and researchers at the University of Nottingham, they have come up with a filtration that only operates when pollution levels are high.

Charlie, a Year 10 student, said they wanted to ‘make the classroom feel cleaner’, reports BBC Online. Keziah Afriyie, a science teacher at Elmgreen School, said building the devices had ‘piqued the interest of children in the quality of air in their classrooms’.

“They are intrigued to see what the air monitors will report about the place where they spend so much time learning,” she added.

The school is in the borough of Lambeth, and close to where nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah grew up. She died in 2013 from an acute asthma attack brought on by ‘excessive air pollution’ from traffic, a coroner ruled. She was the first person in the UK have this recorded as an official cause of death. She had been gradually exposed to toxic emissions from vehicles that were above levels approved by the  European Union and World Health Organization.

This August an expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is due to be introduced, and will mean that the current scheme, which restricts vehicle movements in certain areas, will be expanded to every London borough.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, hopes that it will help as many as five million people – many of them children – to breathe cleaner air. Ella Kissi-Debra’s death was a significant factor in pushing forward the city’s action on air pollution, with Mayor responding to an extraordinary campaign by Ella’s mother, Rosamund and the coroner’s recommendations,

Author: Simon Weedy

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