PUPILS have published a letter to their parents urging adults to adopt better driving habits by switching off their car engine while stationary outside their school.

Students from St James' Primary School, in Colchester, wrote to their parents setting out why clean air is important for young lungs.

St James’ pupils are wanting adults to take action to reduce the risks to children’s health in support of the town-wide CAReless Pollution campaign.

Air pollution is associated with asthma and other lung diseases, and young developing lungs are especially in danger of being damaged. Breathing bad air can also cause heart problems and stroke and it is linked to one in 20 deaths in Colchester.

Breathing in air pollution is the equivalent of a child smoking 1.5 cigarettes a day.

CAReless Pollution is focusing on asking drivers to switch off their car engines when stationary because research from the University of Surrey has found that pollution inside a stationary car with the engine running can be up to seven times higher than the air pollution outside the car.

Yesterday (Tuesday), a CAReless Pollution Zorb-ball was on display at the school to help highlight the poor quality air that children have to breath when they are sat inside a stationary car with the engine running.

The Zorb-ball will then be visiting other events this summer.

St James’ Primary School, along with other schools across Colchester, has received the new CAReless Pollution online toolkit which provides teachers with a range of age-appropriate activities and ideas for inspiring pupils.

A pupil at St James’ School said: “We have been learning about air pollution at school and how bad air can come inside the car. I don’t want to breathe that in on my way to and from school so I will be asking my mum to switch off the engine when we are not moving.”

Simon Crow, portfolio holder for environment and sustainability at Colchester Council, said: “We are really keen to inspire students to understand the health consequences of air pollution and to take positive action to improve local air for themselves and other Colchester residents.

The main source of Colchester’s air pollution is exhaust fumes. Switching your engine off while stationary can cut air pollution by up to 30 per cent.”