Day of action on borough’s dirty air

A new group monitoring Waltham Forest’s air pollution urges parents to leave cars at home, writes Linsey Wynton At least 5,000 children across […]By Waltham Forest Echo

A new group monitoring Waltham Forest’s air pollution urges parents to leave cars at home, writes Linsey Wynton

Parents in Waltham Forest are growing concerned at the number of schools in areas that break pollution limits

At least 5,000 children across Waltham Forest plan to walk, scoot and cycle to school demanding clean air.

The mass action on Thursday 15th June – ‘Waltham Forest Clean Air Day’ – follows evidence that air pollution in our borough is at dangerously high levels.

Nitrogen dioxide toxins at eight schools, nurseries, after-school clubs, and further education centres in Waltham Forest, exceed the safe legal limit of 40micrograms per cubic metre of air, according to a recent Greenpeace investigation. And levels at scores more schools and nurseries are close to illegal, research commissioned by the Mayor of London found.

Children and parents from more than 20 local schools are expected to take part in the event next week. It is part of the first National Clean Air Day, which is backed by the Royal College of Physicians, the British Lung Foundation, many NHS trusts, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Organiser Charlotte Schilcher has been helping to record air pollution levels in the borough with a group called Waltham Forest Cares For Clean Air. She said: “We monitored pollution hot spots in 90 parts of the borough and found worrying results. The high levels of pollution are linked to an increase in asthma and respiratory conditions and other health problems.”

Nationally 40,000 deaths a year are linked to air pollution. World Health Organisation director general, Dr Margaret Chan, says: “Children’s developing organs and immune systems – and smaller bodies and airways – make them especially vulnerable to dirty air.”

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

Larissa Lockwood, from environmental change charity Global Action Plan, which is co-ordinating the action in Waltham Forest, says that vehicle occupants inhale air pollution through their vehicle’s fan. She added: “Some people need to drive to school, but many don’t. The school run is a huge contributing factor to local air pollution. Car drivers and passengers can be exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist.”

Children taking part in this month’s clean air action will wear blue wristbands emblazoned with the words: “Say yeah to clean air”. They can then tell their friends and teachers about the risks of unnecessary air pollution.

Fundraising for the wristbands has come from parents and local businesses, including the Queen’s Arms pub in Walthamstow, children’s clothing designer Indikidual, and Stow Brothers estate agents. It is supported by Safer to School Waltham Forest, a campaign to improve road safety, reduce air pollution and provide more bike and scooter racks at schools.

For practical tips, activities and toolkits on how you and your school can help reduce pollution: Tweet #NationalCleanAirDay Visit

To take part in Waltham Forest Clean Air Day: Email [email protected] Facebook /walthamstowcares

For more information on Safer to School Waltham Forest: Email [email protected]

No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

In celebration of Indie News Week, Public Interest News Foundation's Indie News Fund will match fund all donations, including new annual supporter subscriptions for the month of June.

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month.  £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else.

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly or annually 

More Information about donations