Research done in 2013 showed that 82% of schools in areas that exceed EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution are in parts of London considered deprived. But the study, commissioned by City Hall, was never published — until now.
The Guardian has seen the report — which the new mayor Sadiq Khan now intends to publish in full — and uploaded it to Scribd. It shows that in 2010, Londoners living in the most deprived areas were more exposed to air pollution than those living in less deprived areas.
It also shows that of London's 1,777 primary schools, 433 were in places where average NO2 levels were above EU legal limits. Of those 433, 82% were deprived schools.
There are two issues here. First is the obvious: that bad air pollution, which affects people's health and shortens the lives of thousands of Londoners every year, is disproportionately affecting the poorest and mitigation measures need to be put in place now.
The second is: why wasn't the research published at the time? Caroline Russell, one of the new Green Assembly Members, said:
"Children are at risk of reduced lung capacity and are particularly vulnerable to developing asthma from excessive vehicular pollution. It is staggering that Boris Johnson sat on this report for two and a half years. If this was a deliberate cover up, as suggested, the former mayor of London not only failed to fulfil his public health responsibilities but is answerable for negligence. Having found this report, the new mayor Sadiq Khan should also take note that a number of the schools are in outer London, beyond his proposed ULEZ zone. It's essential that all outer London boroughs should also have the ability to opt in the ULEZ right from the beginning."