'Urgent action needed': Pollution levels near Hampstead schools revealed

Mothers and children protest to reduce pollution in Haverstock Hill

Mothers and children protest to reduce pollution in Haverstock Hill, including co-founder of Mothers CAN Clare Mariscall (back row left) - Credit: Polly Hancock

A group of mothers recording pollution levels around Hampstead schools is calling for urgent action to clean up Camden’s air.  

The Hampstead branch of the Mothers' Climate Action Network (CAN) published air quality results in Haverstock Hill, outside Rosary Catholic Primary School, that showed an average nitrogen dioxide (NO2) level of 46.09 µg/m3.  

Along with the NO2 concentration in Heath Street, near Heathside School, which stood at 43.27, these two results exceed the government’s annual mean threshold of 40 µg/m3.  

The local climate group’s data from pollution monitors was gathered over a two to three week period in July. 

Ruth Raman, from Mothers CAN, called the data “really concerning” – and urged the council to press ahead with measures to tackle climate change locally.  

“We want to support the schools, and help kids and residents have a better quality of life by reducing traffic,” Ruth said.

“It’s not just the breathing in of the NO2 and the particulate matters, but it’s also the mental effect of walking down a very busy road every morning, the noise and all that goes hand in hand with that really.” 

Most Read

In Pond Street, near Hampstead Hill School, and in Fitzjohn’s Avenue, near Fitzjohn’s Primary School, the NO2 recordings came in at just under 38 µg/m3.  

Arkwright Road and the former police station in Rosslyn Hill posted results in the mid 20s, while around Christchurch primary school the figures stood at 14.

Campaigners from Mothers' Climate Action Network and children in Haverstock Hill

Campaigners from Mothers' Climate Action Network and children in Haverstock Hill - Credit: Polly Hancock

Mothers CAN praised Camden Council for its efforts in tackling climate change.  

The Hampstead branch backed the Haverstock Hill cycle lanes scheme, which is set to go ahead this autumn, and called for similar active travel measures – such as road restrictions around schools – to be rolled out.  

Group member Antonia Bose said: “We want urgency on this. Let’s do the best for children, let's do the best for this generation in terms of breathing the air that they breathe.  

“It’s one of the few things we can control. And it's on us to step up and do it.”   

The 10 air pollution monitors were first put up in Camden as part of Clean Air Day. The NO2 testing was part of the Cleaner Air for Communities project, funded by Trust for London. 

Kids pointing to a pollution monitor installed in July

Kids pointing to a pollution monitor installed in July - Credit: Mothers CAN

Cllr Adam Harrison, Camden Council's cabinet member for the environment, said: "Mothers CAN have done invaluable work in measuring air pollution in the Hampstead area.

"Every year, more and more research comes out showing the terrible impact that poor air quality has on our health, whether physical or mental health. And sources of air pollution are often the same as those contributing to rising global temperatures.

"If we can work to make Camden a more family-friendly borough with cleaner air and safer streets, we'll play our part in looking after the world."

Mothers CAN was set up in early 2020 and is formed of groups of mothers working to tackle the climate crisis.