London's large population and heavy traffic flow mean fog isn't the only thing floating around in the air. But a new glue-like substance could be the city's secret to reducing air pollution.
If you find yourself on the streets of London after midnight, you'll probably bear witness to a strange sight: a series of trucks cleaning and spraying the roadways. Most big cities sweep and jetwash their streets at night, but it's the third set of trucks that do something out of the ordinary.
For the past few months, the City of London has been spraying a calcium-and-water-based adhesive onto the ground in areas with high rates of air pollution. Once applied to the roads, the "glue" attracts sooty particles called PM10s that can cause asthma, cardiovascular problems, lung cancer and premature death.
Although some of the UK's political leaders say the $1.4 million price tag would be better spent addressing the source of the pollution, i.e. car exhaust fumes as well as tire and brake wear, but London transportation officials say the unique program has already reduced the city's air pollution by 14 percent.
This quick fix is necessary if London is to become compliant with a set of European Union standards that require cities to have fewer than 35 "bad air" days per year. Those goals must be met by early 2012, or the city could face fines of more than $450 million.
Image Credit: Flickr - Mark Hillary