New trial to tackle air pollution

An innovative scheme to reduce air pollution levels using "dust suppressants" is being trialled on UK roads for the first time.

A chemical solution will be sprayed on major London roads to bind with a dangerous particulate matter called PM10, which is linked to diseases including heart disease, asthma and cancer.

PM10 is released into the air by car tyres, brakes and engine emissions, and the road treatment is aimed at preventing its wider circulation.

The new £300,000 trial will run in London at two sites, among the most at risk of air pollution, over a period of six months.

As part of the scheme, carriageways on the A3211 from Waterloo Bridge to Tower Hill and the A501 from Edgware Road to York Way at King's Cross station will first be swept and jetwashed.

A biodegradable solution of calcium magnesium acetate will then be sprinkled using a modified winter gritting machine. The treatment will be carried out several times a week in the early hours of the morning when necessary.

It is hoped PM10 levels will be reduced by 10% to 20% in the areas where the solution is used.

An inquiry by MPs earlier this year found that up to 50,000 people were dying early in the UK because of air pollution, with the figure for London potentially as high as 8,000 people.

Parts of London have breached European Union legal limits for PM10 and the EU is pursuing legal action against the UK Government over the pollution.

The trial is part of the Mayor of London's air quality strategy which aims to clean up the capital's act on air pollution. The scheme has already been tried out in other European countries including Italy and Germany.

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