Too much NO2 around schools

In addition to being a greenhouse gas that contributes to the climate crisis and deteriorates air quality, nitrogen dioxide, NO2, has a direct and harmful impact on the health of those who breathe it. Chronic exposure to this pollutant is associated with an increase in respiratory diseases, premature aging of the lungs and a decrease in their functional capacity. Children, specifically, are considered a vulnerable population, because their body, organs and immune system are fully developing. Added to this is the higher respiratory rate and the fact that they spend more time outdoors than adults.

However, according to the report “Air quality in school environments 2024”, carried out by the organization Ecologists in Action and made public this week, the school environment – where children and adolescents spend most of their time – are far from to be healthy for them.

According to the study, none of the 114 school environments analyzed meet the annual average NO2 values ​​recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), established at 10 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter); and only 11, 10%, of the 114 environments analyzed are below 20 µg/m3. The report highlights that in 15 cases these values ​​quadruple and are above the 40 µg/m3 that marks the legal limit currently in force in the EU. And the remaining 90% would be above the new limit indicated in the review of the Air Quality Directive, agreed on April 24 by the European institutions.

To carry out the study, 270 sensors were placed in 128 locations located in the surroundings of primary and secondary schools in the provinces of Seville, Murcia, A Coruña, Asturias and Vizcaya and located both on roads with high traffic density and in environments with little exposure to contaminants derived from it. NO2 was also measured next to 14 official pollution control stations, to calibrate the devices installed in schools, and both measurements gave coincident data.