Young children across Yorkshire are being exposed to illegal levels of damaging air pollution from diesel vehicles at schools and nurseries, a new investigation has revealed.
The research by Greenpeace shows 33 nurseries in the region are in close proximity to roads where the level of nitrogen dioxide from diesel traffic exceeds the legal limit of 40µg/m3, (micrograms per cubic metre of air).
While the majority of nurseries close to polluted roads are in London, an analysis of the most recent government data shows the problem stretches far beyond the capital to towns and cities all over England.
Leeds has been named as one of the top 10 local authority areas most affected, alongside Birmingham, Sandwell, Nottingham, Plymouth, Manchester, Leicester, Hampshire, Wolverhampton and Salford.
The city has seven nurseries within 150 metres of a road emitting illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide, with Amazing Grace Early Years Childcare, which is in Saxton Road, in the highest pollution pocket of 53.01µg/m3.
While The Meadows Community Pre-school, based at Catcliffe Primary School, in Rotherham, is exposed to 58.53µg/m3 - the highest in Yorkshire - as a result of its close proxmity to the Sheffield Parkway, a major dual carriageway which runs between Sheffield and the M1.
The findings come just days before the Government is expected to publish a revised plan to tackle air pollution after the previous one was deemed inadequate by the High Court.
Haneen Khreis, a doctorial researcher at the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, has been doing research into early-life exposure to traffic-related air pollution and risk of developing childhood asthma.
She said while 40µg/m3 was the legal limit in Europe, there was no safe level of exposure to diesel fumes.
She told The Yorkshire Post: “We know that air pollution models are very optimistic and traffic-related air pollution is generally being underestimated. The numbers of nurseries and children exposed is therefore likely to be much higher in reality.
“Infants and children are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of air pollution as their detoxification, immune and respiratory systems are all immature. They also have their higher respiratory rates and higher activity levels and time spent outdoors which means their exposure is higher and more risky than that of adults.
"Schools and nurseries should really be offset from roads and universal reductions in air pollution, exhaust and non-exhaust is needed, quite urgently.
"We need to reduce traffic levels on the roads universally and switch to active transport means like walking and cycling were possible and to clean public transport. This would not just reduce air pollution, but also traffic noise and increase levels of physical activity, which are also very important risk factors for children's health.
"The Government has a big responsibility in making this happen."
Is your child's nursery or school exposed to illegal levels of air pollution?
Amazing Grace Early Years Childcare, Living Hope Church, Saxton Lane: 53.01
Jimbo’s Community Nursery, Vinery Terrace: 50.45
Clarendon Nursery, Belmont Grove: 46.81
Beecroft & Sacred Heart After-School Club, Beecroft Primary School, Eden Way, Kirkstall: 46.66
La Coccinelle Day Nursery, Acorn Business Park, Killingbeck Drive, Killingbeck: 40.97
Kidsunlimited Nurseries, First Direct, Stourton: 40.29
Hunslet Children’s Daycare Centre, Whitfield Avenue, Hunslet: 40.29
The Meadows Community Pre-School, Catcliffe Primary School, Rotherham: 58.53
Flutterbies, Stone Row Way, Rotherham: 42.99
Bumbles Breakfast and After-School Club, Blackburn County Mixed Junior School, Rotherham: 41.3
Little Learners Day Nursery, South Bridge Road, Hull: 53.25
Happy Kidz, Holderness Road, Hull: 40.01
Tillymints, Holderness Road, Hull: 40.01
Tillymints Pre-School, St Colomba’s Church, Laburnum Avenue Garden Village, Hull: 40.01
Bright Beginners Nursery, Wicker, Sheffield: 50.71
Kelham Island Community Childcare, The Old Bull’s Head, Sheffield: 45.42
Mega Nursery, The Mega Centre, Bernard Road, Sheffield: 44.02
Sheffield Children’s Centre, Shoreham Street: 42.32
Firvale Pre-School, Firvale Centre, Sheffield: 40.02
Waterbabies, The Hub Doncaster College: 45.62
Tiddlywinks Pre-School, Bawtry Road, Doncaster: 43.53
St Mary’s Day Nursery, Bawtry Road, Doncaster: 43.53
Little Learners Day Nursery, Doncaster School for the Deaf: 43.53
Buttons After-School Club, Warmsworth Primary School, Doncaster: 43.29
Sandpit Nursery, Pitt Street, Barnsley: 44
Tick Tocks Nursery, McLintocks, Summer Lane, Barnsley: 44.89
Mini Mes Nursery, Eldon Centre, Barnsley: 40.81
Kinder Haven Ltd, Wakefield Road, Bradford: 44.11
Oakenshaw Pre-School Playgroup, St Andrew’s Church Hall, Bradford Road, Oakenshaw: 40.88
Tiny Tots, Thornton Road, Bradford: 40.19
Wiz-Kidz Nursery, City Church Centre, Freeman Street, Grimsby: 41
Clee Kids Club, Beaconsthorpe Church, Grimsby Road, Cleethorpes: 41.29
Ducklings Childcare, School Street, Huddersfield: 40.85