Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced £250,000 funding for 50 schools in London boroughs where levels of pollutant nitrogen dioxide, which comes from sources such as diesel engines, exceed legal limits.
The audits, carried out by a transport and environment consultancy, will highlight interventions that could be undertaken at the schools to lower emissions and reduce exposure to pollutants around the schools, Mr Khan said.
The move comes after the mayor issued the first "very high" pollution alert for the capital on Monday, as swathes of the UK suffered from very high or high levels of pollutants known as particulate matter choking the air in the still, cold conditions.
London mayor Sadiq Khan vowed money to help schools tackle air pollution health risks
London is suffering another day of very high levels of particulate pollution, which have built up in the long period of cold settled weather, and could also see moderate levels of nitrogen dioxide at busy roads during the rush hours.
Measures recommended for schools by the audits could include moving school entrances and play areas to reduce exposure to busy roads, putting in "no engine idling" zones to clean up the school run.
There could also be changes to local roads, pedestrianising areas around entrances and restricting the most polluting vehicles around schools.
50 schools in London will receive extra funding to tackle the problem
Schools could put in "green infrastructure" such as hedges and bushes to provide barriers to block out fumes, minimise emissions from boilers, kitchens and other sources and children could be encouraged to walk and cycle.
Mr Khan said: "Every child deserves the right to breathe clean air in London and it is a shameful fact that more than 360 of our primary schools are in areas breaching legal pollution limits.
"London's filthy air is a health crisis and our children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of air pollution."
Ford Tranist Custom Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles launch in London
Thu, January 19, 2017
A fleet of Ford Tranist Custom Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles launch in London in a bid to reduce air pollution.
1 of 11
Ford Transit Custom Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles launch in London
Mr Khan believes every child should breathe clean air
He said the new air quality audits would be "a strong step towards helping some of the most polluted schools in London identify effective solutions to protect pupils from toxic fumes".
Every child deserves the right to breathe clean air in London and it is a shameful fact that more than 360 of our primary schools are in areas breaching legal pollution limits
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
Air pollution from sources including factories and vehicles, particularly diesel engines, is linked to the early deaths of around 40,000 people a year in the UK – and causes problems such as heart and lung diseases and asthma.
In children it can lead to coughs, bronchitis and asthma, and harm the development of their lungs and brains.
A letter from 100 London schools, coordinated by Greenpeace, is calling on the mayor to tackle diesel vehicles on the roads, make walking and cycling to school safer, boost public transport and speed up the switch to clean vehicles.
A letter from 100 schools is calling for the mayor to tackle diesel vehicles
They are also calling for strong leadership to put in short-term measures such as no idling zones, and for the mayor to work with national government on air pollution.
Rebecca Abrahams, the headmistress at St Luke's Church of England school in Tower Hamlets, said: "We have a duty to protect the children in our care, but sadly, even while they play outside at lunch, they are being harmed by invisible air pollution from traffic.
"Given what we know about the life-long consequences of exposure to air pollution as a child, it's imperative we clean up London's air without delay."