BREATHE: A feasibility study of green barriers to air pollution mitigation in school playgrounds

Maria and children from the school where the green barriers are in place
Maria and her colleagues campaigning for money to plant the green barrier at a local school

For an easy to understand guide to green barriers – read this interview with Maria.

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The Green Barrier Project

The urban landscape and its dynamics cause some of the most severe environmental and health problems.

Air pollution caused by transportation has captured attention for its harmful effects on health, especially for it’s effect on vulnerable age groups, such as children.

The BREATHE project aims to address the air pollution problem with a ‘nature-based solution’, by modifying the urban landscape through the addition of vegetation with certain traits that mitigate air contaminants.

Maria standing near a busy road using her pollution measuring tool
Maria measuring particulate matter of 10 and 2.5 microns – 5 and 20 times smaller than the size of a human hair.

Specifically, this is a project of environmental and social research, as well as technological innovation. This project investigates the use of green barriers to mitigate air pollution and improve the health and well-being of children that are exposed to low quality air in their school playgrounds.

The green barriers are vertical and horizontal spatial arrangements of various types of vegetation. They will be installed next to the walls between the playground and street in two schools. The schools are in Sheffield and Buenos Aires.

The impact of the green barriers on air quality, health and psychological well-being will be assessed through different metrics. We will also examine the feasibility of carrying out the project in a developing country.

The outcomes and lessons learned will be communicated with the vision of reproducing the positives in the developed and developing world.

Outreach and impact

BREATHE in action - children planting the living barrier
Volunteers from Hunters Bar Infant School help plant the living barrier Oct 2019

Maria was interviewed by CNBC news in June 2020. Read – In cities around the world, living walls and green barriers could lift our moods and help tackle pollution.

Maria’s green barrier was installed at Hunters Bar Infant School in Sheffield in October 2019.

Read this interview with Maria to find out about the green barrier and how it reduces air pollution for children at the school.





Maria del Carmen Redondo Bermudez


Prof Anna Jorgensen

Head of Department, Department of Landscape Architecture


Dr Juan Miguel Kanai

Department of Geography

Prof Beverley Inkson

Professor of Nanomaterials

Dr Ross Cameron

Senior Lecturer Landscape Management, Ecology & Design

Dr Maria Val Martin

Senior Scientist Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation