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    Air quality in schools: Ecolo urges Government to act

    © Belga
    © Belga

    The opposition Ecologist party, Ecolo, in the Wallonia – Brussels Federation on Wednesday called on the Federal Government to take action following the publication by Greenpeace of a study on air-pollution levels in and around schools. While welcoming the AD’Air pilot project launched last year by the Minister of Education and Wallonia’s Environment Minister, Ecolo described the measure as insufficient.

    “Once it’s a question of their health, all children and their teachers must be protected in the same way and with a maximum of precautions. If it’s indispensable to have harmonized data on the subject, as the Higher Council of Health has just recognized, it’s more than time to act!” commented Barbara Trachte, head of the Ecolo group in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s Parliament.

    “Enough of pilot experiments; and limiting oneself to recommending regular airing out, as the Walloon Minister did then, is very insufficient,” Trachte said. “Especially when we learn from the Greenpeace study that the air quality outside the schools is worrying or poor in 61% of cases.”

    Ecolo recalled that the Greenpeace study was not the first warning about the poor air quality in schools.

    “A 2008 study conducted in 72 schools in the province of Luxemburg showed that, at lunch time, for example, more than 2,000 ppm of CO2, twice the maximum threshold recommended by the WHO, was detected in the air in 79 to 99% of classes,” the parliamentarian noted. “More recent tests have shown that having 25 students in the same room for four hours, with the windows open for 15 minutes after two hours, causes the ppm level to increase to 4,800. What more is needed for concrete measures to be taken?”

    For Ecolo, it is indispensable to set strict standards focussing mainly on the health of children and teachers, and to make health a central precondition in the renovation of buildings or new constructions. Another imperative, the Ecologists say, is rethinking mobility which, today, is too focused on cars.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times