Toxic air from exhaust fumes is “poisoning children”, says a mother-of-two campaigning to stop cars idling by the road.

Aimee Hartley, 44, from Walthamstow, is part of a campaign run by Brixton based group, Mums for Lungs, which is campaigning to stop stationary cars.

Ms Hartley has a five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter (whom she does not want to be named) and is seriously concerned about the effect pollution from cars is having on their health.

She said: “People with children who leave their cars idling are harming their children’s health. They need to change their behaviour for their children and themselves.

“Children are nearer to the exhaust level which means they are getting a higher concentration of exhaust fumes.

“We are poisoning our children and damaging their lungs. Children are surrounded by toxic air.”

Ms Hartley, along with other concerned parents from the borough, handed flyers out and spoke to parents outside St Mary’s C of E school in Walthamstow on Friday last week.

The group of parents wanted to spread the message that leaving car engines running outside schools can have a significant effect on air quality.

Ms Hartley said: “I think there is a lack of awareness around the issue. A lot of people we stopped didn’t realise they had left their engines on.

“Children are exposed to toxic air when playing on the streets and in the playground, there is no barrier between them and toxic air.

“Every time we step out of the house we can’t escape it. Every walk we go on we are subjected to bad air quality.

“We are taking years off our children’s lives and we are not giving them the quality of air they deserve.”

According to research from King’s College London around 250,000 years of human life could be lost over the coming century in Waltham Forest if no further action is taken to reduce air pollution.

In 2016 there were also 251 hospital admissions per 100,000 children for asthma related conditions.

Ms Hartley suggested one way to reduce idling in the borough would be to introduce idling fines throughout the capital.

She also said that although the mini-Holland scheme was good for people living in the area it was just moving traffic to other areas of the borough.

Ms Hartley said: “It is good for those living in the area, but cars are just being displaced, you are just moving the boundaries for cars to drive.”

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: "We have already built more than 22km of segregated cycle lanes, upgraded more than 100 pedestrian crossings, 91 junctions have been improved to prioritise pedestrians, reinforcing the rules of the Highway Code, and we have closed more than 40 ‘rat runs’ to through traffic, which for so long has blighted many local residential streets.

“We are not displacing cars, but prioritising the safety of our residents whether they are travelling by car, bike, public transport or foot, providing quieter and less congested streets for our residents and ensuring those who are travelling through the borough remain on our main roads - the roads that are designed to carry that level of traffic."