By Matthew Jackson, Second Year, Biology
Nine-year-old Jakub Kozlowski has gained attention from air purification experts, after his plea for unpolluted air is answered
Exposure to poor air quality can affect learning and concentration, with GOV.UK stating that long-term exposure can cause devastating effects on your heart and lungs. For the children of Parson Street primary school, exposure to noxious air was once a routine occurrence.
Commuters pile up each morning onto one of the busiest roads in Bristol, sending out clouds of toxic nitrogen dioxide as car engines are left running beside the primary school gates. Parson Street student Jakub Kozlowski said he could sometimes ‘taste the pollution’, as air quality regularly dropped under legal levels.
Last year, Kozlowski began campaigning for better air quality for the school, and just recently he contacted air purifier manufacturer, Blueair, for an air purifier to use in the classroom. But to Jakub’s surprise, Blueair responded with air purifiers for the entire school.
I was kicking a ball around a field at 9 years old. This 9-yr-old's improving (saving?) his classmates' lives.— richardpayneITV (@richardpayneitv) February 9, 2022
Pleasure to meet and film this incredible lad @parsonstreet
More @itvwestcountry at 6pm https://t.co/KE4lfAtw1M
Using electrostatic technology, the air purifiers donated by Blueair use activated carbon filters to remove smaller particles, such as odours from pets and cooking. Whilst a mechanical filter system removes 99.97 per cent of dust, pollen and other large particles, which could help reduce the symptoms of asthma and hayfever, as well as other respiratory infections.
These air purifiers have been shown to remove 99.97 per cent of airborne particles and reduce the abundance of airborne Covid-19 virus particles by 99.99 per cent. Meaning that the harmful effects of stale, polluted air are stifled, but also that the spread of Covid-19 is halted too.
Fiona Price, the business manager for Parson Street Primary School, says ‘we are so grateful to have received the donation for the new term - not only to protect staff and pupils from air pollution but also to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 at a time when the government and scientists are putting emphasis on the effectiveness of air purifiers.’
Whilst this story is a huge step up in the wellbeing for these students, the vicious effects that polluted air can have on young children is still very much a reality in many parts of the UK, and across the world. It is estimated that nine out of ten children across the globe inhale unsafe particles which can lead to issues relating to organ development, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). UNICEF predicts that in less than 30 years’ time, air pollution will become the leading cause of child mortality.
In 2016, one estimation by the WHO found that 600,000 children died from respiratory infections caused by polluted air. Alexander Provins, Director of Blueair EMEA came forward to say ‘Only recently has the UN recognised children’s right to clean air... We really admire Jakub’s drive and encourage him to continue campaigning for what he believes in.’
Price further comments that ‘since the units were installed, our staff and pupils have already noticed the impact on their health and wellbeing with some saying they can feel the difference when they breathe.’
'We really admire Jakub’s drive and encourage him to continue campaigning for what he believes in'
Whilst these air purifiers have been a great help to the children of Parson Street primary school, it is not a sustainable solution, we cannot buy our way out of a harmful living environment. These statistics, and the work done by Jakub is a huge call to governing bodies to help implement more to reduce these devastating effects.
Bristol is at the forefront of the air pollution crisis, after pressure from the government to increase the quality of air to within legal limits. Martin Rees, the mayor of Bristol, has responded by proposing Clean Air zones across the city centre. These clean air zones would introduce charges to older, more polluting vehicles for driving in these zones, as well as charging taxis and buses, in the hopes of reducing transport-induced pollution in these areas.
Thanks to Jakub, these children will be less likely to suffer respiratory or cardiac issues, including a reduction in the chances of lung cancer. Children that have been diagnosed with asthma will suffer less and students will find learning and concentrating easier, due to cleaner classroom conditions.
Featured Image: Unsplash/William Chang and Parson Street School/Fiona Price
What do you think about Bristol's introduction of Clean Air Zones?