Schools across the UK are exposed to high levels of air pollution every day as air quality is still a major problem. Although the government has had several programs intended to address the issue, there hasn’t been anything specifically aimed at protecting school children. Recent developments, however, have given the education sector and environmental and health campaigners hope that things will finally be on the upswing.
The Schools’ Air quality Monitoring for Health and Education (or SAMHE); a group of teachers, pupils, and scientists, produced the idea of putting up AQ monitors in schools all over the UK. They intend to gather a significant database that researchers can use to analyse the quality of air in schools throughout the country.
Organisers are hoping to encourage schools to sign up and support the project. Their goal is to get between 1,000 and 2,000 schools to join their campaign. Once they’re in, they will receive a monitor specially made to measure particulate matter, VOCs or volatile organic compounds, relative humidity, temperature, and carbon dioxide. Using a web app, students and teachers can easily retrieve data from the monitors. Since the app is interactive, information is provided as is so schools can observe the changes in air quality daily, weekly, monthly, and even over a few hours.
The SAMHE project brings together five major universities, namely Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge, the University of Leeds, the University of Surrey, and the University of York.
Researchers first came up with the idea last year, and they were able to secure funding from the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) and the Department for Education. The design for the project was completed with the assistance of co-design schools. By November, beta testing for the project started and it involved around 120 schools as pioneers that helped improved and test the interactive app.
Some of those who participated in the beta testing said the SAMHE monitors have helped them access and analyse data. They were especially excited about the fact that they could get the data they needed in real time. Stockholm Environment Institute’s Dr. Sarah West, on the other hand, emphasised the important role the students and teachers played in making the project engaging and efficient, particularly in terms of what the schools needed.
Although introduced only in 2022, the SAMHE project was based on an earlier collaborative endeavour called Project CO-TRACE, which involved the Imperial College London, the University of Surrey, and the University of Cambridge.
Good air quality matters
Reducing air pollution and improving the UK’s air quality is essential for many reasons, but most especially for keeping the public environmentally safe and protecting their overall health. Exposure to toxic air, particularly the ones emitted by diesel vehicles, can lead to lifelong health conditions, such as asthma, chronic respiratory illnesses, and cardiovascular diseases.
This is the reason authorities continue to strictly monitor carmakers accused of installing defeat devices in their vehicles.
In 2015, authorities alleged that the Volkswagen Group used the defeat devices in their VW and Audi diesel vehicles that the latter sold in the US to cheat emissions testing so their vehicles would pass regulatory tests. VW had to recall the thousands of affected vehicles and spend billions over the years for fines and driver compensation. This became known as the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal.
Authorities said VW lied to and misled their customers as the defeat devices manipulated emissions once a vehicle is in the testing process. They reduced emissions artificially so that levels matched legal limits.
These low emissions levels are only temporary though, as, once such a defeat device-equipped vehicle is out on real-life roads, it emitted excessive and harmful amounts of nitrogen oxide or NOx, a group of gases that are dangerous to human health.
What happened to VW didn’t stop other carmakers from following the German manufacturer’s footsteps, though. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Renault, and Nissan are only some of the carmakers also accused of using defeat devices. The list of carmakers gets longer every year.
Dangerous NOx impacts
Aside from asthma, respiratory ailments, and cardiovascular disease, exposure to NOx emissions can also do the environment a lot of damage. For starters, it forms acid rain and smog. It is also capable of producing ground-level ozone, which can, over time, kill vegetation.
Other health effects include COPD, pulmonary oedema, cancer, and asphyxiation. NOx also has serious impacts on your mental health (depression and anxiety) and cognitive health (dementia).
The scariest impact of exposure to NOx, however, is premature death.
Carmakers are responsible for putting you and other affected drivers through these life-altering health impacts. They gave more importance to making a profit than protecting their customers. This is why authorities encourage the millions of affected customers to file a diesel claim against their manufacturers.
So, how can I start my diesel claim?
The first thing you should do is visit ClaimExperts.co.uk so you can verify your eligibility to file a case. Once done, you need to work with an emissions expert who can point you in the right direction for your diesel claim. They can help you understand why joining a group legal action against your carmaker is the ideal option for you.