Can ‘Pollution Glue’ Clean Up London’s Dirty Air?
London is one of Europe’s dirtiest cities in terms of air quality. Despite the UK capital’s innovative congestion charging scheme, it remains extremely busy with vehicle traffic. A recent study by campaign group Clean Air in London found that 13 schools in the city are situated near roads that carry more than 100,000 cars a day. And, of course, that’s set to increase significantly while the city hosts the Summer Olympics and Paralympics next year. Already, London frequently breaches European Regulations on the level of pollutant particulates, or PM10, allowed in the air.
Now, London’s city government is taking an unusual step to try to reduce the flow of pollutants into the city’s air — coating the busiest roads with “pollution glue” designed to absorb dangerous chemicals out of the air and ‘glue’ them to the tarmac. Transport for London, the agency that runs London’s famous Underground and buses, but also manages its roads, is to trial the use of ‘dust suppressants’ in 15 locations across the city. A solution of calcium magnesium acetate is applied to the roads using a specially-built vehicle with a sprinkler system attached. Calcium magnesium acetate has the effect of attracting fine dust particles in the air and binding them to the road, where they can be picked up by car tires or washed away by rain.