A primary school in Islington, which is on the Mayor’s register as having one of the highest levels of pollution in the capital, is hoping to become one of the UK’s first clean air state schools.
Hugh Myddelton Primary School yesterday launched it’s ‘We Share Clean Air’ event in partnership with Radic8, who are providing the school with clean air technology in every classroom.
The Parents and Teachers Association will foot the bill, with contributions from the school’s own budget. It is expected to cost around £30 per classroom per month.
From September the school will trial clean air technology in classrooms alongside an anti-pollution mesh on the fence perimeter as well as a pollution tower in the playground. It wil also replace traditional chemical cleaning products with probiotic cleaners.
Clean air technology company Radic8 will monitor air pollution levels throughout and hope to see an “immediate” change once the technology is installed.
Richard Greenwood, CEO at Radic8 said: “Once we get the barrier up from the road, there will be a massive difference in the playground area, which in turn has a big difference inside. And once we put some of our technology in each classroom then we will see all the levels drop there straightaway.”
He said that while other schools have trialled air purification systems in the past, which trap air pollutants, it is better to break down the pollution using a technique called photocatalytic oxidation. Greenwood said: “We actually break air pollution down into three segments – dirty air which is dust and pollen, toxic air which is traffic pollution, and chemicals from indoor cleaning products, and then thick air – this a real focus on respiratory viruses.
“Our technology destroys thick air, it neutralises toxic air and it traps dirty air, so it goes above and beyond what a common air purifier does.”
Radic8’s technology was recently used in a Channel 4’s Dispatches programme looking at how to reduce children’s exposure to toxic air at Lordship Lane Primary School in Haringey.
Greenwood said: “We’re getting a lot of enquiries and in all honesty most of them are coming from PTAs. So what we’ve tried to do with the technology that goes into classrooms is to make it as affordable as possible.”
He said the filters are easy to maintain. Pre-filters need to be cleaned with a hoover or wipe every couple of weeks, but the inside filters only need to be changed every 3000 hours.
“So in a school you’re looking at about nine months before we change the filter. And then the actual technology, what we call the reactor chamber, that needs changing every 8000 hours, and we see in a school that being probably every two years or so. So once they’re installed the maintenance is very little,” Greenwood added.
Tim Barber, head of school at Hugh Myddelton, explained that the school’s PTA are very keen to get involved in the project and that parents are increasingly asking about air pollution levels near the school.
“I think you’ve got to take that big picture view with something like this, I mean the WHO doesn’t declare public health emergencies lightly,” he said.
Speaking about the cost of the equipment, he said: “I do believe it’s an investment in the long term health of the children, you can’t prepare them for the future, with their reading and their writing, and then not prepare them for the future in terms of their lung development.”
He hopes the trial at the school will “make an example of how it can work in an affordable and sustainable way in the state sector.”
“I think the private schools are much more financially able to deal with issues like this and I don’t want air quality to be an issue of equality. I think it’s a human right of every child to be able to breathe clean air. If we can actually work with someone like Radic8 to come up with an offer that is most of all effective, but also sustainable for schools, that for me is something hugely important,” Barber added.