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TfL unveils chemical solution to clean up air

An innovative system to reduce pollution in some of London’s most congested streets has been launched by Transport for London.

Roads in two areas in the capital are to be treated with a dust suppressant solution, designed to trap airborne particulates that can lead to respiratory conditions.

Transport for London (TfL) said the six month trial will allow the two roads – the A3211 and A501 – to meet European emissions targets.

European legislation demands that levels of pollutant particulate matter PM10, which is produced by car engines and tyre and brake wear, are not allowed to exceed 50 micrograms per cubic metre more than 35 times a year.

Fines can be levied by the European Commission if these limits are exceeded.

The dust suppressant solution is made up of calcium magnesium acetate, which binds particulate matter to the carriageway and prevents it re-circulating in the air. It will be applied to roads at night several times a week from a modified road gritting vehicle, after they have been swept and washed by a road sweeper.

The particulates are then either washed away by rain or cleaned by road washing.

TfL head of strategy and business development for surface transport Keith Gardner said the £300,000 scheme should help ensure that the European targets are not breached at two locations with high particulate levels – the A3211, from Waterloo Bridge to Tower Hill and A501, from Marylebone Road to York Way, near King’s Cross station.

TfL believes there could be as much as a 20% reduction on the levels of PM10, and impact of the trial will be measured using the London Air Quality Network. Results will be available in autumn 2011.

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