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Britain's Toxic Air Scandal

Britain's Toxic Air Scandal: How C4’s Dispatches & Hedges Direct Reduced Air Pollution by 53%

Lancashire based company Hedges Direct, specialist online suppliers of hedging and garden plants, with Green-tech Ltd, recently supplied Channel 4’s Dispatches programme with Ivy Screens and other garden plants in support of a ground-breaking experiment at the Lordship Lane Primary School in London.

The levels of both Nitrogen Dioxide from exhaust fumes and other particulate matter from brakes and tyres produced by all vehicles (including electric), were measured before and after for comparison.

Prior to undertaking the experiment, Nitrogen Dioxide levels and other particles around Lordship Lane Primary School were found to be over 50% higher than ‘acceptable’ levels – worrying.

Following the two-week experiment, pollution levels were drastically reduced by as much as 53% - a significant reduction in external areas of the school, including the playground.

Imagine what the long-term benefits could be, especially for children who are silently suffering from the daily toxic air that surrounds them.

1 in 3 children are growing up exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution. UK Pollution from traffic fumes and particulate matter is reaching high and illegal levels on a regular basis. The effects are highly detrimental, leading to narrowing of airways, prevalence to lung diseases such as asthma and even affected brain development. This is worrying for parents, particularly if they are unaware of these invisible toxins.

Did you know that an average adult breathes about 20,000 times a day? This figure is higher for children running and playing. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 90% of children under 15 years of age, breathe in polluted air every day*.

Shockingly, over 2000 UK schools (and nurseries) situated in heavily trafficked areas, fall into the ‘high/ illegal’ levels of pollution. The experiment showed that planting ivy screens and other planting options could provide immediate health benefits to children (and adults) by improving air quality and cleanliness while supporting tight educational funding.

Anna Kettley, Director of Programmes for UNICEF called for a national strategy with ring-fenced funding so action could be taken on what she deemed a ‘major child health crisis’. 86% of children are breathing toxic air as a result of ‘persistent and illegal breaches of the UK Air Pollution Limits’.

Hedges Direct supplied Hedera Helix Ivy Screens, 1.8m high x 1.2m wide which were installed as a perimeter solution around the exterior of the Lordship Lane Primary School to absorb sooty particles from traffic pollution, providing cleaner air for the children when spending time outside. A garden was also created in the playground area, featuring various evergreen hedging plants to enhance this further. More greenery can influence positive well-being, decreases atmospheric humidity, encourages children to become more creative, calmer and more engaged in the classrooms*.

“Air pollution hinders children’s brain growth and affects their health in more wats that we previously thought.” – Maria Neira, Director of Health and Environment, WHO* New government legislation to tackle the problem will, unfortunately, take time despite measures being taken by the motor industry to reduce pollutants from vehicles. Channel 4’s Dispatches highlighted that the greener and simple anti-pollution measures were effective and evidenced the significant contribution towards a better air quality while helping to reduce exposure to harmful pollutants.

Dispatches ‘Highlighting Britain’s Toxic Air Scandal’ was aired on Monday 10th June and is available on Channel 4 catch-up.

To learn more about Ivy Screens and other plants supplied for the experiment, visit www.hedgesdirect.co.uk or call 01257 788281.

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This story was published on: 06/03/2020

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