Can 'pollution glue' clean up dirty air?

Pollution glue may sound like a joke, but it is real and it's being deployed in London in a bid to clean up one of Europe's dirtiest cities. The glue is really a dust suppressant solution sprayed on some of the city's busiest streets to keep airborne particulates to a minimum.

The "glue" is made from calcium magnesium acetate, which traps sooty particles from car exhaust, tires and brake wear (called PM10s) to the roadways before they can hit the air. The roads will be swept and jet washed at night, and then the acetate solution is applied using a winter sand and salt spreader modified with a sprinkler-like system before the morning rush of cars.

Trials in August showed a reduction of pollutants in pollution hotspots of to 10 to 14 percent in a 24-hour period. Reports did not indicate whether the acetate solution itself would cause environmental problems for groundwater or rivers if rained upon.

The project, which will roll out over 15 London locations, is estimated to cost over of $1.4 million dollars. It's a bid to bring London's skyrocketing pollution problem — at its highest levels since 2003 — under control. The city hopes to avoid European Union fines for days in which PM10 levels exceed air quality standards. If London has over 35 'bad air days" in 2012 the fines begin, and there are those who are afraid that left unchecked this is a real possibility.

Environmentalists are not sold on the plan. They believe the project is only a patchwork solution given that only a few locations will be treated. Additionally, they are concerned that the glue plan does not address curbing pollution at the source.

Transport for London, the authority rolling out the pollution glue claims it is just part of a comprehensive solution that will also include rolling out lower emission vehicles, emission standards, discouraging engine idling and more.

Looks like London is trying to clean up its act before the world descends this summer for they Olympic Games. We'll see if the glue sticks!

Via CleanTechnica, BusinessGreen

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