COLLABORATION

The partnership keeping air clean in Greater Manchester schools

SOURCE: Stem.T4L/Unsplash
Schools in Greater Manchester will be the first to try out the Clean Air for Schools project.

The University of Manchester is collaborating with the Phillips Foundation and Global Action Plan (GAP) to monitor air quality and the effects of air pollution on Greater Manchester schools in a one-of-a-kind research project. 

Called “Clean Air for Schools”, the initiative is a wide-scale project that seeks to understand the impact of bad air by analysing behavioural changes and academic performance in students. 

The project will kick off with a 10-month pilot study involving 6,000 students across 20 schools in Greater Manchester.

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This is the first time a study of this nature is being carried out in the UK. The research findings will help develop a framework for schools to make plans for air pollution reduction and improve air quality levels. 

To facilitate the study, University of Manchester will provide air monitoring equipment and academic expertise to analyse air pollutant levels in schools. 

Besides physically monitoring air quality within these schools, air purifiers and tailor-made teaching resources will be provided to aid the education and awareness of teachers, students and parents concerning the effects of air pollution and how to improve air quality. 

Following this, the research team in collaboration with the Phillips Foundation and GAP will also track any behavioural change after being exposed to educational activities about reducing air pollution. 

air quality
Traffic emissions are one of the main causes of the UK’s worsening air quality index. Source: Sandro Cenni/Unsplash.

The collaboration follows worsening air quality levels in the UK, with recent government data revealing that 83 percent of reporting zones in the country had high illegal levels.

A report stated that pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide have been linked to 1,200 deaths a year in Greater Manchester alone.

Air pollution is a cause of concern as it is known to cause various adverse respiratory health issues especially towards the very old and the very young. 

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Studies have even identified links between poor health quality and health problems such as dementia, heart diseases and pregnancy miscarriages. 

It is also said that these conditions can cause severe lifelong effects on children’s lungs and intelligence. 

The Clean Air for Schools project will indeed be significant to mitigate these adverse effects. 

“Drawing on research through our new air quality supersite and Manchester Urban Observatory, we’re excited to be a part of a truly cross-sector collaboration that brings together the skillsets of the private sector, charity, local public sector and our University right here in our city,” said the University of Manchester Director of Social Responsibility Dr Julian Skyrme at the launch of the programme. 

“The programme will add to the growing body of research into air quality and its impacts on communities – and through this collaboration we will be able to make a practical difference to what schools and communities across the UK can do to tackle air quality.”