Since the Summer Term, Green Team and the School Travel Ambassadors have been working on an air pollution project. We began by investigating the causes of air pollution and finding out why air pollution is such a big issue in our area.
We learnt that nitrogen dioxide is a harmful gas which is released into the atmosphere when fuels are burned (for example, petrol or diesel in a car engine and in power stations). It is harmful to humans because it can affect our health. There is evidence that high levels of nitrogen dioxide can inflame the airways in our lungs and, over a long period of time, affect how well our lungs work. People with asthma are particularly affected. NO2 can also affect plants and wildlife.
We then worked with the Marylebone Clean Air Alliance and with the charity Sustrans to carry out some investigations into the air quality in and around our school, including putting up test tubes inside, outside and near to St Vincent’s. The tubes were to test the quality of the air in our environment. Once the tubes had been out in the street for a month, we collected them back in and sent them off to a lab for analysis. Scientists in the lab tested each tube for the amount of nitrogen dioxide.
The EU has set a limit of 40 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre. We were very pleased to find out that the amount of pollution inside our school and in our playground is quite low and within safe limits. But we were shocked to find out that the amount of harmful nitrogen dioxide in the air in the streets very close to us, especially on Marylebone High Street is well above the safe limit as you can see in the results below.
mg/m3 µg NO2 (EU safe limit: 40 mg/m3 µg )
129 Waitrose exit (Marylebone High Street) 61.73
128 New Cavendish Street/ Marylebone Street 44.96
127 Main entrance to St. Vincent School 36.75
126 Office St. Vincent’s front 24.75
125 Lunch Room next to Kitchen door 24.45
124 Roof Playground 36.66
123 Foundation Stage Playground 33.51
122 Thames St/ George St 55.79
121 George St/ Manetreston St 55.19
We then made our video about our air pollution project that will be shown to Transport for London, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and everyone in the school. This autumn we are not only going to be sharing our findings about air pollution but also seeing what we can all do as a school community to help. Here are our ideas:
We can write to the Mayor and our MP to let them know how worried we are about air pollution.
We can also remember to try and use public transport and walk instead of using cars.
If you do have to use the car, turn off your engine. If you keep your engine running, it creates lots of pollution. We call this idling.
To avoid the harmful pollution, try and walk on quieter side-streets, away from busy main roads.
Power stations release harmful gases into the air too. To save energy in your home, switch off all lights and appliances when you are not using them.
If you have any more ideas please come to us and let us know. Together we can do something about air pollution and make our city a healthier place to live!