North East MSP highlights dangers of ‘toxic school run’

The discussion panel: Susan Murray (Scottish Natural Heritage), Gillian Martin MSP, Gavin Thomson (Friends of the Earth Scotland) and councillor Lesley MacInnes
The discussion panel: Susan Murray (Scottish Natural Heritage), Gillian Martin MSP, Gavin Thomson (Friends of the Earth Scotland) and councillor Lesley MacInnes

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin chaired a panel on the dangers of air pollution during the school run as part of the first Scottish Parliament Family Day recently.

The panel represented an opportunity for experts, parents and young people alike to voice opinions on how we can mitigate against the air pollution school children are exposed to on a daily basis.

A recent study found that during the school term levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), commonly produced by diesel cars, can be 85% higher in the mornings than when schools are closed for public holidays.

However, from no-car and low-emission zones to encouraging walking and cycling, there are many potential solutions which could help protect children from toxic air before irreversible damage is done to their health and their futures.

Commenting after the event Gillian Martin MSP, who is Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, said: “Young people are aware that how they get to school is of great importance when tackling air pollution.

“I was glad to host young people from around Scotland to talk about how those who run urban and rural Scotland can put measures in place to improve the air quality and how we can give young people a bigger say in how that is done. They are asking us to make changes, and we have a duty to respond.

“As a cyclist myself I agreed with the majority of young people there that safer routes to school for cyclists are a must.”