A biodegradeable saline solution has been recommended as a potential solution to too much dust in the air. Olympic officials want a clean city for the games and are prepared to spray this glue like substance through the streets of London in order to stick the dirt to the ground rather than have it in the air.
Source: The Telegraph
A report by the Mayor’s office recommends the use of a sticky salt spray along busy streets to reduce the amount of dust in the air, especially during the Olympic Games.
The biodegradable saline solution is sprayed by trucks usually used for salting the roads in winter. It acts like a glue attracting particles of dirt to stick to the ground rather than make dust.
Already so-called “dust suppressants” are being used in 15 sites around London, including on Upper Thames Street, Marylebone and in Neasden Lane.
However, Simon Birkett, Director of Clean Air London, has pointed out that all of the sites are close official air quality monitoring stations to measure the level of pollution in London.
If the sensors detect high levels of pollution, London could be fined tens of millions of pounds by the EU for failing to hit clean air targets.
Mr Birkett accused the Mayor of London’s office of using the suppressants to clear the air before readings are taken.
“The use of dust suppressants in front of official air quality monitoring stations is public health fraud on an industrial scale,” he said.
Mr Birkett said pollution levels are already above European legal limits but it is being hidden by the use of dust suppressants, meaning the authorities are not being forced to act.
“[The use of dust supressants] has virtually no impact on public health. What it does do is suppress pollutants so we don’t report illegal breaches. It is dangerous because it means we don’t know how bad the problem really is.”
Pollution levels are measured in tiny particles of soot and dirt blown in from as far away as forest fires or the Sahara or from traffic emissions. The particulate matter, known as PM10s, can cause lung and heart problems when inhaled by humans.
In order to meet the European Commission targets the daily limit for PM10 in the UK must not exceed 50 micrograms per metre squared more than 35 times in a calendar year.
London was supposed to meet the target by 01 January 2005 but has had to ask for a series of extensions. Clean Air London claim levels are regularly breached in the heart of the capital.
The latest deadline is this September and if London fails again then the UK faces a fine of £300 million.
Mr Birkett pointed out that the Mayor’s own strategy admits that suppressants are being used to achieve “compliance” with European standards.
The Mayor’s clean air strategy reads: “There are other days where a location only just exceeds the EU limit value. In these circumstances a reduction in local emissions or concentrations (for example, by preventing re-suspension) will help achieve compliance.”
Mr Johnson has insisted the suppressants are part of a short term strategy to reduce pollution alongside long term measures including bringing in more low emission zones, retrofitting buses and planting trees.
His office explained that it makes sense to have monitors at the most busy traffic spots so that it forces the UK to clean up its dirtiest air, in the same way this is the most important area to use dust suppressants.
There is also growing concern about nitrogen dioxide fumes in London, which are twice legal health limits by London’s busiest streets, according to Clean Air London.
The Department for the Environment recorded the first “summer smog” over the weekend of 22nd March after high ozone levels were recorded.
This occurs when sunlight reacts with pollutants and is the most dangerous kind of pollution for athletes.
Beijing managed to bring down nitrogen dioxide PM10s and ozones during the 2008 Olympics, but it was through closing down factories and restricting traffic rather than the use of any short cuts like dust suppressants, and it will seriously embarrassing if London fails to clean up its air.