Toxic fumes tests needed for Auckland schools at risk

Auckland Green Party MP Keith Locke has called for urgent air quality testing of schools in Auckland areas already known to be at risk from high levels of toxic fumes.

“I support mandatory air quality testing for at risk schools, as proposed by the New Zealand Educational Institute,” Mr Locke, the Greens’ Spokesperson on Auckland transport issues, says.

“Perhaps the immediate focus should be on schools in notorious ‘black spots’.

“Khyber Pass has long had high levels of toxic fumes, putting at risk the nearby St Peters College, which also borders the southern motorway. Newton Central primary school, in a high fumes gully enclosing the western motorway, is also in a difficult situation.

“This serious problem has to be addressed in a multifaceted way, through:

  • ameliorating measures to reduce fumes in playgrounds and school buildings.
  • not allowing construction of new child care centres or schools beside major roads or motorways
  • taking account of school locations when planning new roads or motorways. The SH 20 extension,currently under construction, unfortunately goes right past the Mt Roskill school complex
  • encouraging the use of low emission vehicles and where possible, re-routing trucks away from schools
  • cutting traffic volumes through concentrating expenditure on better public transport, rather than new highways
  • providing alternatives to the car for transporting students to school, through safe cycle lanes and better bus and train services.

“The money is there, if we take a ‘whole of government’ approach to expenditure. There is a huge cost to the health system in treating respiratory and other illnesses caused by transport fumes — and scientists estimate such illnesses cause over 400 early deaths among Aucklanders,” Mr Locke says.