The government has pledged to bring forward UK air quality commitments in new legislation announced in the October Queen’s speech.
Air pollution in the UK is a major cause of diseases such as asthma, lung disease, stroke and heart disease and is estimated to cause 40,000 premature deaths costing around £40bn each year. Many major cities have been reported to be significantly and regularly above legal and recommended levels.
With approximately 4.5 million children in the UK, which equates to one in three, growing up in a town or city with unsafe levels of particulate pollution, we all need to work together to find a long-term sustainable solution.
Earlier this year, an experiment was carried out at Lordship Lane Primary School in London and was covered by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme ‘Britain’s Toxic Air Scandal’.
We were approached to participate in this programme, but we were unable to do so owing to project commitments.
The programme documented an experiment over a two-week period, which saw the school undergo changes to attempt to combat the effects of pollution throughout. 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 the experiment, the nitrogen dioxide levels and other particulates around the school were found to be over 50% higher than ‘acceptable’ levels.
Air quality studies from Hedera Screens installations
‘The impact of a green screen on concentrations of nitrogen dioxide at Bowes Primary School, Enfield’: www.londonair.org.uk/london/reports/Green_Screen_Enfield_Report_final.pdf
‘Particulate Pollution Captur by Mobilane® Green Screens along the A38 Bristol Street in Birmingham’: www.mobilane.com/en/news/pm10-research-reducing-pollution-with-green-screens/
For the external anti-pollution measures, replicating those installed in London schools already, Hedera Helix Ivy Screens, 1.8m high x 1.2m wide, were installed as a perimeter solution around the school exterior to attempt to absorb sooty particles from traffic pollution and provide cleaner air for the children when spending time outside.
At the end of the two-week period, levels were measured again and the results were nothing short of staggering. In the playground and external areas of the school, the addition of the Ivy Screens had reduced the pollution levels by as much as 53% – a significant reduction within a very short timeframe.
Our air pollution levels paint a frightening picture. Measures being taken by the motor industry to reduce pollutants from vehicles, substantial reductions and new government legislation to tackle the problem will all take time. The good news is that we now know there are simple green anti-pollution measures which can be implemented immediately.
Good air quality is essential for our health, quality of life and the environment. The main causes of air pollution include transport, domestic combustion and industrial processes. The ivy traps and absorbs the nitrogen dioxide, which acts as a filter barrier to pollution.
The trial evidenced that through the installation of Ivy Screens there can be a significant and immediate improvement in air quality. There are many other experiments and studies completed that are widely available (see bottom left).
Hedera Screens are the senior installation partner of all Mobilane products. Green screens provide a simple screening solution for urban environments. They are available in a range of heights up to 3m high and can be extended if required.
They are supplied with their own growing media in place ready for installation into the ground. The specially selected growing media incorporates a controlled release fertiliser and wetting agents to aid rapid establishment. They can be planted in the ground, sleeper beds or planter boxes.
Whilst providing extra privacy, Ivy Screens can also increase biodiversity by attracting insects, bees, butterflies and birds.
Besides being aesthetically pleasing, they are proven to reduce air pollution and can also help reduce noise pollution by acting as a vegetative acoustic barrier. Hedera Screens can also assist with creating sensory gardens and green spaces, with our range of products.