London air pollution crisis affecting hundreds of schools, mayor warns

London is facing an air pollution crisis, mayor Sadiq Khan has warned after new figures showed 443 schools across the capital have breached legal limits on harmful emissions.

The latest analysis comes after Mayor Khan accused his predecessor Boris Johnson of failing to inform Londoners that the most deprived schools are disproportionately affected by toxic air.

The new research shows that Southwark, Westminster and Tower Hamlets have the most primary and secondary schools in high pollution areas.

Nearly 10,000 deaths every year in London are linked to air pollution.

Mayor Khan has already outlined proposals to more than double in size the planned Ultra-Low Emission Zone, which from 2020 will introduce a £12.50 charge on 2.5m of the most polluting vehicles.

He has also indicated that he wants to introduce the ULEZ earlier and to introduce London-wide low-emission standards for heavy vehicles by the end of the decade.

Furthermore, the mayor has asked City Hall and Transport for London to develop a programme for promoting "cleaner air walking routes" to schools and will work with TfL on a campaign to keep Londoners informed about the quality of the capital's air. Measures under consideration include introducing road signs in the worst affected areas to alert drivers when pollution is dangerously bad and the creation of a few airTEXT service.

"It is simply not acceptable that young Londoners - our children, grandchildren, family, neighbours and friends - are being exposed to dangerously polluted air and putting them at greater risk of respiratory and other conditions," Mayor Khan said.

The mayor has also joined a High Court challenge to the Government's air pollution plans as an interested party. Environmental lawyers ClientEarth are suing the Government for the second time in a year, having previously won a Supreme Court case in 2015 that ordered ministers to fulfil their legal duty to cut pollution in the "shortest time possible".

The new case argues the Government is still failing to do this.

The mayor has said he believes London can meet the legal standards for nitrous oxide (NO2) well before 2025, which is when the Government's Air Quality Action Plan forecasts London will be compliant.