Pupils at Prior Weston School with the new ivy screen and air pollution map, with Cllr Claudia Webbe (centre) and Tamzin Barford (back right)

Green ivy screens helps tackle pollution as Islington launches school air audits

Innovative ivy screens are boosting air quality at an Islington school – as Islington Council today announces more air quality audits for the borough’s schools.

The 7ft-tall ivy wraps around the playground at Prior Weston Primary School, filtering damaging particulates and helping to absorb polluting gases from nearby streets.

The pioneering ivy screens were installed in June with funding from Islington Council,Islington Sustainable Energy Partnership and the Mayor of London, following an air quality audit at the school by the Mayor.  Funding also paid for pupils to produce an air pollution walking map to encourage less-polluting travel to school.

Today Islington announces a wider programme of air quality audits for schools across the borough.  The first schools being audited are Hugh Myddelton Primary, Thornhill Primary and St John’s Upper Holloway CE Primary, with more to follow.  The ultimate aim is to carry out an audit for every school in the borough.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “We’re committed to bold action to improve air quality at schools.  We know children are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of air pollution, which is a health emergency for London.

“Ivy can be a powerful and important defence to counter the effects of air pollution, filtering particulates and absorbing polluting gases.  We’re pleased to work with the Mayor of London and Prior Weston School to install this pioneering green screen and create an air pollution walking map for the school community.

“Today we can also announce that Islington Council is carrying out air quality audits of schools across our borough, creating targeted solutions, so we can carry out similar work at other schools to help improve air quality.”

Tamzin Barford, Year 4 teacher and science lead at Prior Weston, said of the Prior Weston Primary School Air Pollution Map: “The air quality mapping project has been an excellent opportunity for the children involved to find out for themselves what air quality is really like in the local area. 

“As a result of being so involved in collecting the data, they can clearly explain what it means and what the impact for the local community is.  They are very excited about sharing their findings with the school and can’t wait for people to start using the air quality map that they helped produce! 

“We hope that the map will help our families make greener choices in how they get to and from school, and it is part of a wider programme to provide a cleaner, healthier and safer environment for our children to learn in.”

Shirley Rodrigues, City Hall Deputy Mayor of Environment and Energy said: “The Mayor is determined to do everything in his power to help tackle our toxic air and protect children’s health. Our 50 school air quality audits are already resulting in positive action for thousands of pupils, including at Prior Weston school where we have helped deliver the new green ivy pollution barrier and walking maps. It’s great that Islington council are now offering these important air quality audits to many more schools in the borough.”

Notes to editors

Notes to editors:

An air quality audit is an assessment of a location (eg school) that makes recommendations of how local air quality can be improved eg by creating an ivy wall, reducing engine idling etc

Air pollution affects everyone’s health but the young, elderly and those with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions are most at risk. In periods of high pollution those with existing heart and respiratory conditions such as asthma may find their condition exacerbated. At very high levels otherwise healthy individuals may find they get a sore throat, sore eyes or a tickly cough. The long term impacts can be even greater. Air pollution increases the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, reduces lung development in children and is also increasingly being linked to a range of other conditions such as cancer, diabetes and dementia. 

The main source of pollution in Islington is road transport. Other pollution sources in the borough include domestic and commercial gas use and industry. Islington Council is leading the fight against poor air quality and working hard to reduce the pollution in the borough from these sources.

Contact information

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