Creating campaigns that tap the diverse community around many of the UK’s schools could help to keep air pollution low, especially as much of the country experiences the cost-of-living crisis, according to a new study from the University of Surrey.
Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) found that campaigns aimed at changing the behaviour of parents, teachers and the local community, such as ‘school street’, can reduce outdoor nitrogen dioxide exposure by up to 23 per cent compared to business-as-usual activities. However, the study’s authors believe behavioural change campaigns should be more inclusive and should consider the school’s diverse communities and the local population.
Professor Prashant Kumar, the corresponding author of the study and founding- Director of the GCARE at the University of Surrey, said:
“Schools are going through lean times where every penny matters, and while some of the effective technologies in this study may appear unrealistic, the success of behavioural campaigns is clear from the evidence. Our study indicates that when local communities come together to raise awareness of air pollution, school exposure levels drop significantly.
“However, it is important that schools take into account the rich diversity of the school community, and their general local community. Health could be significantly improved and even lives saved through more air pollution awareness campaigns that target parents, schools and children, as well as business owners and the general public living around the school itself. Ideally this would be in addition to air-cleaning technologies — and those responsible for school and healthcare funding should act on this. But even in isolation a real difference can be made through community-based behavioural changes.”
GCARE researchers conducted a comprehensive literature review of how several technologies, such as HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems, air purifiers, and also behavioural changes can impact the concentration of pollution particles* in classrooms.
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