HUNDREDS of York children are getting involved in tackling the city’s air pollution.

As the UK marks its first National Clean Air Day on Thursday, four schools and a scouts group in York have bought or are planning to buy air pollution monitors.

Each monitor is a small tube with a filter to absorb nitrogen dioxide, a harmful pollutant particularly prevalent in diesel exhaust fumes.

The tubes are being put up by pupils and scouts and after two weeks will be sent away for analysis.

Youngsters will also learn about the dangers of pollution and ways to reduce it and it is hoped other schools, businesses and individuals will also sign up.

Children at St Oswald’s CE Primary, in Fulford, have bought four monitors from Friends of the Earth using cash from fundraising activities and 92 children in years 5 and 6 are taking part.

One of them, nine-year-old Alex Widdup, said: "Pollution is bad for breathing but people still drive cars. Monitors won’t stop it."

Joseph Chambers, aged seven, put up a monitor near his home in Fulford Road. He said: "Lots of cars are in traffic jams outside our house every day so it’s a good place to see how much pollution they cause."

Fishergate Primary and St Wilfrid’s RC Primary, in Monkgate, plan to look at air pollution soon, as does Fulford School, which will tackle it with more than 400 children in Year 7 and 8 Geography lessons.

Fulford School teacher Bex Brady said: “It is really important to ensure students are aware about such an important issue and we’re excited they will be actively involved in monitoring air pollution levels around the school. Taking their learning beyond the classroom is a fantastic opportunity to get them motivated and proactive."

Guy Beavis, leader of Fulford Scouts, has ordered a monitor and pointed out that a vital part of scouting and childhood is being outdoors.

He said: "It is so important the air we breathe is not polluted as this can have negative effects on youngsters’ physical development."

Mike Childs, head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth, said children’s lungs “are most vulnerable to air pollution and they are at risk of developing a number of life-damaging illnesses as a result. While everybody should have clean air, the very least we should do is to prioritise protecting children."

City of York Council says on its website that poor air quality is a significant public health issue, especially for the young, the elderly and those with respiratory and heart conditions.

Pollutants in the air have been linked to asthma, lung cancer and heart attacks.