Tackling the Toxic Classroom Problem

The damaging effects of pollution has been posted in doctor’s surgeries, news reports and even told to us in person, yet some pupils are still being educated in highly polluted areas for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

It’s been reported that 3,000 schools in England are located in areas with potentially dangerous levels of pollution.

Sparkenhoe Community Primary in Leicester, for example is near a diesel locomotive depot, which means pupils breath in contaminants that are 13 times the UK annual emissions limit. Other toxins also filter inside from various types of public transport, photocopiers, printers and central heating.

These statistics prove that some pupils are at considerable health risks. A recent study published this year by The Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health discusses the air pollution and its effects on the UK population.

“Gestation, infancy and early childhood are vulnerable times because the young body is growing and developing rapidly. We know that the heart, brain, hormone systems and immunity can all be harmed by air pollution. Research is beginning to point towards effects on growth, intelligence, and development of the brain and coordination.”

With this being said what can we do to decrease the levels of air pollution in our schools?


Government and schools should be encouraging and facilitating the use of public transport and active travel options such as cycling and walking. We need to promote the added benefit of physical activity when choosing to cycle or walk to school and introduce incentives with cycle training and provide safer cycle networks.

Additionally, there needs to be stricter legislation on polluters. Political leaders on a local level, national and international level, should enforce regulations which test the emissions of cars to measure the level of toxins being produced. Pollution both indoor and outdoor needs to be heavily monitored as we need to act now and think long term.

Our recently appointed London Mayor Sadiq Khan has claimed he will be tackling indoor pollution head on which may mean new legislation being enforced in our schools and public places, ultimately having an effect on the HVAC and mechanical services industry.

361 Degrees have worked extensively with schools, colleges and universities to design effective air conditioning systems which decreases toxins and other negative compounds in the classroom. This provides a clean atmosphere for pupils to learn and maximises their productivity.

See here for our Case Study on Barnfield College.

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