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. In the interview we find out more about air pollution, and just why plants can help protect children.

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 its effect on vulnerable age groups, such as children.

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

BREATHE at school

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.

The BREATHE project is environmental and social research, as well as technological innovation. Specifically, this project investigates the use of green barriers to mitigate air pollution. Through the use of green barriers, we aim to improve the health and well-being of children who are currently exposed to low quality air in school playgrounds.

Green barriers are vertical and horizontal spatial arrangements of various types of vegetation. Two schools – one in Sheffield and one in Buenos Aires – will receive green barriers. Find out more about GoGoGreen at Hunters Bar Infants School in Sheffield.

After they have been installed, the impact of the green barriers on air quality, health and psychological well-being will be assessed. And we will also examine the feasibility of carrying out the project in a developing country.

Once we have collected data, outcomes and lessons learned will be communicated. Our hope is to reproduce the positives in both 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

CNBC news interviewed Maria in June 2020. They spoke to her about her project and linked it up to other global efforts to combat air pollution. Look here to read: In cities around the world, living walls and green barriers could lift our moods and help tackle pollution.

The installation of the barrier brought a team of teachers, local people, academics and businesses together. Find out more here: School seeks help to install pioneering ‘green’ pollution barrier.

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

Publications

Redondo Bermúdez M..C. (2020) Plants, Ambient Air Quality, and Human Health. In: Leal Filho W., Wall T., Azul A.M., Brandli L., Özuyar P.G. (eds) Good Health and Well-Being. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69627-0_125-2

 

 

 

Maria del Carmen Redondo Bermudez

Supervisor

Prof Anna Jorgensen

Department of Landscape Architecture

Co-Supervisors

Prof Beverley Inkson

Professor of Nanomaterials

Dr Ross Cameron

Department of Landscape Architecture

Dr Maria Val Martin

Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation