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Test-Achats campaigns for better air quality outside schools
More roads in front of schools should be closed to traffic at the beginning and end of the school day to reduce the effects of air pollution on children, according to consumer protection group Test-Achats.
The organisation has backed the concept of "school streets", where motor vehicles are banned during normal drop-off and pick-up hours, wherever possible. Where schools are located on main roads that cannot be closed, police and neighbourhood wardens should enforce a ban on parents keeping their car engines running, Test-Achats said.
The measure is one of the proposals forward in a new campaign which follows anecdotal research on the effects of air pollution on school children's health.
Before the summer holidays, Test-Achats equipped three families - in Namur, Brussels and Ghent - with air-quality monitoring devices and recorded their exposure to PM2.5 fine particles. Each family used a different method of transport to get to school - car, bike and on foot - but all three were exposed to similar levels of pollution.
Test-Achats is also calling for the introduction of more 30kph zones, cycle paths and low-emissions areas around schools.
The organisation says children are particularly at risk because "they breathe more air proportionally to their weight and therefore absorb more pollutants" - potentially leading to asthma, respiratory diseases and shortened life expectancy.