PUPILS will be on the streets today encouraging drivers to turn their cars off outside schools.

Parents and children will gather outside St Luke’s Primary School in Brighton this afternoon and walk the city’s busiest streets to raise awareness of the impact of engine fumes.

Children will walk through congested roads including New England Street and Preston Circus to hand out leaflets to drivers.

Lizzie Murray-Clark of campaign group Breathe In Brighton said children were at particular risk from air pollution because their lungs are smaller.

“The public are simply not aware of how dangerous keeping your engine running while stuck in traffic or waiting to pick up your child from school really is,” she said.

“We want to change that.

“Air pollution is a national health emergency and a recent study suggests that it is responsible for more deaths than smoking.”

Car idling has been a hot topic for St Luke’s, where campaigners of all ages will gather at 3pm today.

Last year it was given permission by Brighton and Hove City Council to close Queen’s Park Rise road at pick-up and drop-off times to improve air quality for pupils.

Breathe In Brighton hopes campaigns led by parents and children will lead to no-idling zones being introduced around schools.

Ms Murray-Clark said: “There have been a lack of efforts into the personal, everyday changes we can make to confront the problem.

“To combat this, Breathe In Brighton is launching the Anti-Idling Campaign to tackle this and myth bust common misconceptions about leaving your engine running.

“The campaign has received full support from the local council and we hope that it will finally spark conversation around engine idling.”

The campaigner said keeping your engine running is just as harmful for drivers as it is for children.

“Air pollution can be nine to 12 times higher inside a car than outside,” Ms Murray-Clark said.

“Turning your engine off and restarting it after a minute causes less pollution than leaving it running.”

Campaigners will also meet at Brighton station at 5pm this evening to hand out leaflets.

To find out more, email breatheinbrighton@gmail.com.