Lancashire based company Hedges Direct, specialist online suppliers of hedging and garden plants, with partner Green-tech Ltd,supplied Channel 4’s Dispatches programme with Ivy Screens and other garden plants in support of a ground-breaking experiment at Lordship Lane Primary School in London.
The Channel 4 programme, which aired on Monday 10 June, documented over a 2 week period, an experiment which saw the school undergo changes both externally and internally to attempt to combat the effects of pollution throughout. The levels of both nitrogen dioxide from exhaust fumes and other particulate matter from brakes and tyres produced by all vehicles (including electric), were measured before and after for comparison. Prior to the experiment, the nitrogen dioxide levels and other particulates around the school were found to be over 50% higher than ‘acceptable’ levels.
For the external anti-pollution measures, the Hedera Helix Ivy Screens, 1.8m high x 1.2m wide supplied by Hedges Direct, were installed as a perimeter solution around the school exterior to attempt to absorb sooty particles from traffic pollution and provide cleaner air for the children when spending time outside. A garden was also created in the playground area featuring various evergreen hedging plants to help supplement this.
At the end of the two week period, levels were measured again and the results were staggering. In the playground and external areas of the school, the addition of the Ivy Screens and garden plants had reduced the pollution levels by as much as 53%.
In the programme, Anna Kettley, the Director of Programmes for UNICEF, called for a national strategy with ring-fenced funding so that action can be taken on what she deemed a ‘major child health crisis’, with 86% of children now breathing toxic air as a result of ‘persistent and illegal breaches of the UK Air Pollution Limits’. Yet, whilst measures are being taken by the motor industry to reduce pollutants from vehicles, large reductions and new government legislation to tackle the problem will all take time.
What the Channel 4 Dispatches programme did highlight, was that these greener and simple anti-pollution measures, now have evidence to show significant contribution toward better air quality within the local environment, helping to reduce exposure to harmful pollutants and preserve the health and well being ofchildren.
For schools and nurseries in heavily trafficked areas across the UK, of which there are over 2000 that fall into high / illegal levels of pollution areas, this information will no doubt be invaluable, and whilst funding is always an issue, ivy screens and other planting options can not only be cost-effective but more importantly can provide an immediate improvement in air quality, as evidenced in the programme.