The new guidance, offers practical solutions to protect young children who are most at risk. Key pieces of the guidance include:

  • Linking air pollution and its impact to the National Curriculum in Science, PHSE (personal, social, health and economic) or Citizenship, English and Geography.
  • Reminding parents that children in buggies are at greater risk, due to their proximity to vehicle exhaust pipes.
  • Encouraging the creation of action plans to protect pupils’ health. This includes installing air pollution monitors to show when toxic air is worst and what measures could be the most effective to tackle the problem.
  • Recommending introducing travel plans, and a range of options to reduce air pollution round schools. For example, encouraging car sharing, and safe walking routes away from main roads.

Concerned parent, Adam Matthews, said: Every time we pass major road junctions, I can see the filthy exhaust fumes from passing vehicles.

“Often the children say they can taste and smell the emissions. They are shorter than me, closer to exhaust pipes of passing vehicles. They’re breathing in so much toxic air.

“I hope schools across the country will use this practical guidance to develop plans to protect pupils from the worst of the pollution.”

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Our own research found that only a third of local authorities are monitoring pollution levels outside schools. This isn’t good enough. Toxic air is poisoning our children. This guidance will address the lack of information and data available to teachers and parents.”

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Air pollution is a growing area of concern for members of the National Education Union. Schools cannot solve this problem alone but we are delighted to publish guidance which will help schools take practical steps to protect children.”


Notes to editors

[1] Greenpeace (2017)

For more information, please contact the British Lung Foundation press office (open 7am-10pm seven days a week) on or 020 7688 5580.

The National Education Union Press Office can be reached on 020 7782 1589 / 0207 380 4706 and out of hours on 07918 617466 / 07922 576 869.

The British Lung Foundation is the only UK charity fighting to help the 1 in 5 people in the UK affected by lung disease, by researching new treatments, campaigning for better awareness and services, and providing support and advice for patients, carers and family members. For further information, please visit For help and support, call the BLF Helpline on 03000 030 555. To donate £5 to help the BLF fight lung disease, please text COPD to 70500.