Road surfaces in two London locations currently showing as having high PM10 (particulates) levels are to be treated with dust suppressants as Mayor of London Boris Johnson attempts to prove he can tackle London’s air quality.
The UK faces the threat of EU fines for breaching permitted levels of PM10 after the European Commission declined to grant an extension for the capital to meet the targets.
EU directives 1999/30/EC and 96/62/EC set daily limit of 50 micrograms (μg)/m3 and yearly limit of average concentration value of 40 micrograms (μg)/m3 for PM10 emissions
In a statement issued in June the Commission said it “did not consider the exemption justified, as seven out of the eight zones already complied with the limit values”.
In refusing the extension the Commission said the UK had failed to show it would comply with the daily PM10 limit by the time the exemption period expired in 2011. A further exemption application for London is still under assessment.
Environmental campaigners and London politicians are blaming the risk of fines on the Mayor’s policies including the decision to abolish the Western Extension of the Congestion Charge and delay implementation of the third phase of the Low Emission Zone.
Critics argue these policies undermine City Hall’s claims to take the matter seriously and damage the credibility of the case for an extension. City Hall officials a move to lower emission buses, popularising cycling and a drive to encourage the take-up of electric cars show the Mayor is serious about tackling air quality and pollution.
On Friday the Mayor announced the launch of a new “innovative” trial to treat road surfaces in two areas with a solution made up of Calcium Magnesium Acetate which “literally sticks the particulate matter to the carriageway and prevents it re-circulating in the air.”
The two sites being treated under the trial are the A3211, from Waterloo Bridge through Victoria Embankment, Upper Thames Street ending at Tower Hill; and A501, Marylebone Road and Euston Road from the A5 Edgware Road to York Way at King’s Cross station.
In Friday’s statement Mayor Johnson said his administration had “scoured the globe to find new ways to tackle pollution and found this wonderful contraption that tackles air quality head on, sticking particles to the roads’ surface and preventing their dastardly escape back into the air we breathe.”
Mr Johnson claimed the treatment would “have an immediate impact on air quality in the most polluted areas of central London”.