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Posted on 26 June 2018

Air quality at our school

Our school took part in the Mon Air Mon Mon Ecole study organised by Greenpeace. It monitored air pollution in 222 schools around Belgium during two weeks in autumn 2017. The Woluwe parents association (APEEE) sponsored the project and one of our dedicated teachers at our school carried out a set of specific air tests.

Tests were done outdoors in the recreation area, the main entry and indoors in a secondary class room and a teacher’s office. A summary of the results for our school can be found here : Mon air mon école – EEB2.

As many of you may have suspected the results are not good. Bad air around the playground area and the school entry / street:

  • The NO2 values of the main entry and the playground are high. These high values are directly related to emissions from motor vehicles on the street.
  • The main entry and playground values are higher than average in the other categories.

The worrying outdoor values fortunately do not translate to bad indoor values, nevertheless, they are classified as merely “acceptable” by the report. APEEE feels as parents we have the primary responsibility to protect the health of our children in the place they spend most of their day breathing unacceptable levels of air pollution.

We all have interest to reduce our own pollution, here some reflections:

  • School busses are provided and organised by APEEE – enrol your child to the school bus. Each year, we adjust the stops at bus stops that regroup proximity to your homes. At the moment, only 2410 out of 3095 pupils use the bus service! 165 nursery children take the bus out of 277. In Primary and Secondary, out of 2817 pupils, 407 children don’t take the bus. We hope many come by bike or on foot or by public transport.
  • But still, we can infer that each day several hundreds of cars come to our school to deposit or pick up.
  • We remind that it is forbidden by law to leave the motor of the car on while waiting for a child. [1]
  • The ‘kiss and ride’ parking is conceived for quick drop offs and not for long waits. There is a 100€ fine foreseen in the Belgian Street Code [2] if you wait. People often confuse this area with the 15min waiting time at Kiss & Rides close to airports or train stations. In front of schools, no waiting is allowed.

APEEE will continue negotiating with the school to provide more bike stands at the entry of the school. We will also plea for changing the busses for school trips to wait at the bus parking for the pick-up / drop off instead of having them wait on the school playground and pollute the air.

If your child is asthmatic or suffers from a respiratory condition it will be particularly vulnerable to the high level of air pollution. We therefore recommend you to regularly consult air pollution levels in Brussels (as you would consult the weather) at http://aqicn.org/city/brussels/ and seek medical advice on how to ameliorate health problems.

Furthermore, Greenpeace are asking parents to sign a petition to Belgian ministers (see: https://www.monairmonecole.be) calling for clean air for Belgium’s school children and we encourage parents to sign the petition as Parents of the European School.

We invite you also to watch this movie on bad air quality in cities made by the ARTE channel:

We wish you great summer holidays and hope you’ll start the new school year with a spirit of contributing to clean air.

Bettina Schmidbauer Mogensen
Vice President pedagogical affairs

[1] : Article 8.6 of the belgian street code stipulates that «les conducteurs doivent en outre veiller à ne pas laisser le moteur en marche au point mort sauf en cas de nécessité.» and «Il est interdit à tout conducteur de procéder, au point mort, à des accélérations répétées du moteur

[2] : see section “Kiss & Ride

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