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Air cleaning for the Olympics

Air cleaning for the Olympics
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With less than 100 days to go before the Olympics kick off in London, pollution is a major preoccupation. Transport for London uses a system for monitoring air quality called CityScan. They also use chemical suppressants to glue polluting particles to the road, employing modified gritting trucks to spray a chemical solution which is later washed away by the rain.

Garrett Emmerson, the Chief Pperating Officer for Transport for London said: “It’s a fine spray composed of water and calcium-magnesium acetate, which effectively binds together the small particles in the air and sticks them to the road so they don’t recirculate up as traffic passes.”

But not everyone is convinced that these systems are being used correctly. Some people think that the glue lorries are being used too close to monitoring stations, meaning that pollution is being effectively under-estimated.

Simon Birkett, the director of Clean Air London said: “These monitoring stations are the ones used to report legal breaches in London and they are also the ones used to trigger smog alerts. Now these, in a sense, are the canaries in the coal mine, warning miners about the danger of pollution levels. To use these pollution suppressor trucks directly in front of official monitoring stations is public health fraud on an industrial scale.”

Nitrogen dioxide levels in London are around the same levels as they were in Beijing when it hosted the Olympics in 2008. A recent government study found that around one in five deaths in London is linked to poor air quality. The capital could also face an EU fine of around 370 million euros if pollution is not brought under control.

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