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Get ready for Walk to School Week

Be part of Living Streets' national #WalkToSchool week campaign aiming to get children and grown-ups walking more this May, and beyond! From 20th - 24th May, get ready to ditch the car for a stroll, cycle or scoot to school.

Air pollution and children's health

Studies have found that 1 in 4 cars on the road during the morning peak are on the school run and, very worryingly, all schools in London are in areas that exceed European legal limits of nitrogen dioxide pollution.

Children are among the most vulnerable to air pollution related illness and research carried out across Europe has suggested that up to 30% of all new asthma cases in children are caused by exposure to air pollution. The toxic air they are breathing every day can harm their lungs, damage the development of their brains and stunt growth.

Urgent action is needed to tackle the air pollution crisis and make the walk to school cleaner and safer for all children.

This will require government, local authorities and schools to work together but there are steps we can all take, right now, to help mitigate the worst effects of poor air so that we can breathe cleaner air in Merton.

5 actions you can take to breathe cleaner air

  1. Walk, cycle or scoot - The walk to school is good for everyone, reducing the number of cars making short journeys on our streets, helping to improve air quality and reduce congestion. Active travel is great for the body, mind and our environment, and a simple way to add more exercise into your daily routine.

  2. Choose less polluted routes - Reduce exposure to air pollution by changing your walking/cycling route to school or commute, using quiet side roads rather than busy main roads wherever possible. Your health is well worth taking a short detour for!

  3. Stop idling - If driving is unavoidable, make sure that you do not leave the vehicle engine running when parked outside/nearby school sites. Turning off an engine and then restarting, even after just a minute, will cause less pollution than letting it run - and also uses less fuel.

  4. Travel by public transport for longer journeys and hop off a stop early to move a little more each day.

  5. Car sharing - Get together with fellow parents to create a car share club if/when driving is necessary. Many people are starting to see the benefits for their pockets and the environment.

Share your top tips for reducing and avoiding air pollution by tagging us on Twitter @SustainableMert and Instagram @sustainablemerton.

Happy walking!


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