Pupils conducted a town-wide air quality experiment as part of the Saffron Walden Clean Air Project.

Uttlesford District Council has been working with consultancies MP Smarter Travel and Global Action Plan for the project, which aims to raise awareness of air pollution.

Since September, pupils from Saffron Walden schools have been investigating their own personal exposure to air pollution through the Air Aware initiative.

Each week, handheld electronic air quality monitors are being passed from family to family to record the pollution levels at home, on the school run and on trips across town.

Almost 200 families across Saffron Walden have signed up to take part, and have been recording their pollution levels in Air Aware diaries, noting what they were doing at the time and how it made them feel.

The hope is that a more detailed understanding of people's own exposure to air pollution will encourage more walking or cycling to school, reducing car use and helping to protect children.

Participants consistently found elevated levels of pollution on main roads and around school drop-off times, as well as a high level of pollution inside cars - in some cases up to 12 times higher than outside.

Cllr Neil Reeve, Uttlesford District Council's portfolio holder for environment and climate change, said: "We are delighted that so many young students and their families are engaging with this project – it shows just how important this topic is to local people.

"Some of their findings are extraordinary and also concerning.


"Clearly we need to reduce air pollution and must continue to encourage people to walk and cycle for their trips, whether it’s the school run, commute or just heading into town."

Schools are receiving ongoing support to facilitate more walking and cycling, including free cycle training through Essex County Council, banners and events that discourage idling and leaflets and assemblies to educate students on the sources and impacts of air pollution.

Saffron Walden Clean Air Project is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and aims to create a 'cleaner, healthier and greener' town for everyone to enjoy.