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August, 2011:

The Extreme dangers of ultrafine and PM2.5 particulates in Hong Kong’s air.

Hong Kong EPD does not publish PM2.5 nor ultrafine data, unlike other first world countries !

PM0.1  Ultrafines

Respirable Ultrafine particles are the size of a virus and enter the body into the lungs unhindered by nose hairs. They can carry heavy metals and hang suspended in the air.

They can cling to VOCs in the air forming a lethal brown ‘haze’


Respirable Particulate matter are the size of larger bacteria and the smallest red blood cells.  They enter the body into the lungs unhindered by nose hairs. They can carry heavy metals and hang suspended in the air They can cling to VOCs in the air forming a lethal brown ‘haze’

DOWNLOAD PDF : Science – FineParticles

Small Particulates – the worst form of air pollution


Based on reviews of the latest scientific literature, the Air Resources Board staff has concluded

that particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) is much more toxic than previously

estimated. New research suggests that even small increases in exposure increase the

potential for earlier deaths.

Talk about heart-stopping news: Spending time in traffic may triple some people’s risk of having a heart attack an hour later. That’s

what German researchers reported last October in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), based on responses from

691 heart attack survivors about their activities in the days before they fell ill. The study seemed to support the notion that tiny

air pollution particles from tailpipes, along with stress, could help trigger a heart attack.

The key issue of PM2.5 particulates has not been addressed. It is now

beyond question that increasing levels of these particulates are associated

with increased mortality and also increased deaths from cardiovascular

diseases. The data derived from the WHO Air Quality Guidelines, as indicated

in the report, suggests that there would be 27,500 years of life lost every 15

years around incinerators for each 1μg/m3 rise in PM2.5 particulates.$FILE/TribalFactSheetforPM2.5.pdf

Ambient Air Quality Standards (AAQS) for Particulate Matter

What is particulate matter (PM)? Revision of the PM Standards
Why is the ARB is concerned about PM? What are the major harmful health effects
associated with PM exposure?
What are the ambient air quality standards forPM?

Particulate matter (PM) is a complex mixture consisting of varying combinations of dry solid fragments, solid cores with liquid coatings and small droplets of liquid. These tiny particles vary greatly in shape, size and chemical composition, and can be made up of many different materials such as metals, soot, soil and dust. PM may also contain sulfate particles. California has a separate ambient air quality standard for sulfates.
PM may be divided into many size fractions, measured in microns (a micron is one-millionth of a meter). ARB regulates two size classes of particles – particles up to 10 microns (PM10) and particles up to 2.5 microns in size (PM2.5). PM2.5 particles are a subset of PM10.
PM10 and PM2.5 are each measured and expressed as the amount (in micrograms) of particles
contained in a cubic meter of air, expressed as micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m
What are the Sources of
Airborne Particulate Matter?

Burning fuels, such as gasoline, oil, diesel or
wood, produce most of the PM2.5 pollution found
in outdoor air, and much of the PM10. Wind-blown
dust also contributes to PM10 pollution.

Why is the ARB concerned about particulate matter?
The ARB is concerned about Californians’ exposures to PM2.5- and PM10-sized particles because of the potential harmful health effects that can result.
PM 2.5 and PM10 particles easily penetrate into the airways and lungs where they may produce harmful health effects such as the worsening of heart and lung diseases. The risk of these health effects is greatest in the elderly and the very young. Exposure to elevated concentrations of PM is also associated with increased hospital and doctor visits and increased numbers of premature deaths.
What are the PM Standards?
The State of California has established ambient air quality standards for PM. These standards define the maximum amount of particles that can be present in outdoor air without threatening the public’s health. In June of 2002, the California ARB adopted new, revised PM standards for outdoor air, lowering the annual PM10 standard from 30 µg/m3 to 20 µg/m3 and establishing a new annual standard for PM2.5 of 12 µg/m3.
California’s ambient air quality standards for PM are designed to protect the most sensitive groups of people, including infants and children, the elderly and persons with heart or lung disease.

For more information, see the Ambient Air Quality Standards chart at

State and Federal Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter
California ARB Standard PM10 Federal EPA Standard PM10
Annual Average 20 µg/m3 N/A
24-Hour Average 50 µg/m3 150 µg/m3
California ARB Standard PM2.5 Federal EPA Standard PM2.5
Annual Average 12 µg/m3 15.0 µg/m3
24-Hour Average ——– 35 µg/m3
California’s PM standards are more protective of human health than the corresponding set by EPA. See the EPA site for the new federal PM10 and PM2.5 ambient air quality standards at
Revision of the PM Standards
The ARB adopted new PM standards in June of 2002, responding to requirements of the Children’s Environmental Health Protection Act (Senate Bill 25, Escutia 1999). This Act requires the evaluation of all health-based ambient air quality standards to determine if the standards adequately protect human health, particularly that of infants and children. The subsequent review of the PM standards resulted in the recommendation of more health-protective ambient air quality standards for PM10 and a new standard for PM2.5. More details of this review are available in the staff report, “Public Hearing to Consider Amendments to the Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter and Sulfates.” The new PM standards became effective in 2003.

Information about how the ARB sets ambient air quality standards can be found at

What kinds of harmful effects can PM cause?
Concentrations of PM above the current standards may result in harmful health effects. Since the small particles that make up PM can easily penetrate deep into the lungs, scientists have studied the effects of this type of pollution on human health. Both short- and long-term exposures to PM have been shown to lead to harmful health effects. A large body of evidence has shown significant associations between measured levels of PM outdoors and daily increases in the numbers of human deaths. In addition, scientists have observed higher rates of hospitalizations, emergency room visits and doctor’s visits for respiratory illnesses or heart disease during times of high PM concentrations. During these periods of high PM levels, scientists also observed the worsening of both asthma symptoms and acute and chronic bronchitis. Scientists have found a relationship between high PM levels and reductions in various aspects of the healthy functioning of people’s lungs.
Which groups are most susceptible to health effects from PM?

  • ·        The Elderly
  • ·        People with Heart and / or Lung Disease
  • ·        Children and Infants
The elderly and people with heart and/or lung diseases are particularly at risk to the harmful effects from PM exposure. A data analysis from ARB’s Children’s Health Study shows health effects in children, as well. This study showed that in communities highly polluted with PM, children’s lungs developed more slowly and did not move air as efficiently as children’s lungs in clean air communities. Children and infants are susceptible to harm from inhaling pollutants such as PM because they inhale more air per pound of body weight than do adults – they breathe faster, spend more time outdoors and have smaller body sizes. In addition, children’s immature immune systems may cause them to be more susceptible to PM than healthy adults. Further research may clarify the relationship between PM exposure and children’s health.
PM levels in most areas of California exceed current state PM standards from a few to many times each year. ARB is working diligently to reduce levels of PM and other kinds of air pollution in California’s outdoor air. You can also help in the fight against air pollution – click here for further information

For more information on Ambient Air Quality Standards please contact
Dr. Linda Smith at (916) 327-8225 or email at

Wikileaks Cable Shows Grim Truth of Air Pollution in China’s South

26 August 2011

Rubbish floating on the Pearl River is seen in the mangrove woods at the Lianhuashan Mountain in Guangzhou of Guangdong Province, China. The Pearl River Delta is one of the most developed regions in China, which also led to heavy pollution of the environm

Rubbish floating on the Pearl River is seen in the mangrove woods at the Lianhuashan Mountain in Guangzhou of Guangdong Province, China. The Pearl River Delta is one of the most developed regions in China, which also led to heavy pollution of the environment (China Photos/Getty Images)

Southern Chinese know the health hazards of their environment—they just have to look up and see the brown haze obscuring the Pearl River Delta, an urban hub of cities in Guangdong, China.

But nothing makes Chinese air pollution more evident to the outside world than a Wikileaks cable, prepared by diplomats in the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou in 2006 and released Aug. 26, providing candid statements from Chinese communist officials and foreign officials that prove the point.

One-third of China’s urban inhabitants live in cities with harmful air pollution or even very dangerous pollution, says Wang Jinnan, the chief engineer at the Chinese Academy on Environmental Planning, part of the State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), according to the Wikileaks cable.

Air quality is getting worse, especially in major cities, leading to more and more serious health problems, said the vice minister of SEPA, Zhang Lijun, according to the cable.

Officials have also said that air pollution’s financial cost is large and growing.

Zhu Guangyao, deputy chief of the SEPA said that the damage to China’s environment costs about ten percent of China’s yearly GDP. Ten percent was about $200 billion in 2006, at the time Zhu made the statement, but would be $500 billion in 2011.

By 2030, 15 percent of China’s GDP will be lost due to health costs and causalities from air pollution, says a Harvard scholar, according to the cable.

In the report, a Yale scholar estimated more than half of China’s yearly GDP growth would be wiped out due to air pollution.

The cable elaborated other facts that brought to light the pervasiveness of pollution in the south.

For example, when scientists finally started measuring the pollutants in south China, their findings alarmed the world–but the pollutant with the most impact on public health was not even measured. The levels of fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution are suspected to be so high that they would create political difficulties if revealed.

Related Articles

Heavy industry and residential coal burning fuels 70 percent of China’s energy. Air pollution is also caused by inadequate pollution controls, deforestation, and a sharp increase in the number of motor vehicles.

According to the report, in the next 15 years, Chinese pollution discharges may increase four or five times if reforms aren’t made.

“Air pollution in south China is bad and getting worse, mirroring conditions in many other regions in China,” the cable said.

“It is a sad irony that this region of China—seen as a beacon for poor migrants who want to find fame and fortune—has actually become harmful to those migrants’ and others’ health.”

WikiLeaks reveals China’s failure to measure dangerous pollution

Pollutant levels were not measured and made public because findings would have been ‘too sensitive’ for the authorities

Wikileaks cable on China :Smog in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, due to air pollution, PM 2.5

Overview on a smog ridden day of the city of Guangzhou. Photograph: Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images

China has not measured data on the most dangerous types of air pollution because it is afraid of the political consequences, according to US diplomatic cables.

This assessment, which comes to light as the government prepares to upgrade its air quality monitoring system, was among the central findings of cables from the US consulate in Guangzhou that were released on Wednesday by WikiLeaks.

Diplomats based in the industrial heartland of Guangdong – known as the workshop of the world and also one of the worst areas for acid rain and other pollution – looked in detail at monitoring systems and health impacts in 2006.

Based on research by local scientists, the consulate noted in a cable dated 16 August that small-particulate matter known as PM2.5, was five to 10 times higher than suggested by World Health Organisation guidelines.

It said the findings were “alarming”, because PM2.5 is not on the government index of air pollutants yet it is deemed to be of highest concern for public health because the particles are so fine they can enter into the lungs, contribute to acute respiratory symptoms, heart disease, childhood illnesses and premature deaths.

The diplomats observed, however, that this form of pollution was not being systematically measured and made public because the findings were likely to be too sensitive for the authorities.

“Those lobbying for its inclusion in an index of pollutants conceded that including a pollutant whose current levels would measure so far above acceptable standards would be politically difficult,” the cable said.

Problems about transparency extended to academia, according to another cable dated 19 September 2006, which describes: “Academics and research scientists in Guangdong, who are increasingly concerned about the region’s serious air pollution, but feel pressured to tone down their comments lest they face cuts in research funding … Scientists acknowledge that lack of transparency for existing air pollution data is a major problem both for research and policy making.”

Diplomats who attempted to research the possible links between pollution and birth defects were denied meeting requests on the grounds that the subject was “too sensitive”.

PM2.5 was not the only problem. Until now, Ozone – another dangerous pollutant – has also been omitted from the index, When the US Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation William Wehrum visited the Guangdong Environmental Information Center in 2006, a member of his delegation noted:The raw data on the LCD screen showed extremely high levels of O3 (Ozone)”.

Since the cable was written in November 2006, however, environmentalists have commended the progress that China has made in measuring, disclosing and reducing air pollution, but many of these concern remain today.

The state media reported on Thursday that a new index would soon be introduced. Expectations are high that it will include ozone for the first time. Less certain is whether PM2.5 will finally be added.

Down to fine detail as court review of bridge studies ends

Hong Kong Standard

A counsel for the government dismissed the need to assess a fine particulate in environmental impact studies for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A counsel for the government dismissed the need to assess a fine particulate in environmental impact studies for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

Benjamin Yu, representing environmental protection director Anissa Wong Sean-yee, was responding to the need for the assessment raised by Philip Dykes, counsel for Tung Chung resident Chu Yee-wah, who initiated a judicial review of the bridge study reports.

The government was continuing its attempt to overturn the Court of First Instance ruling that quashed the environmental permits issued for the construction of two parts of the Hong Kong section of the bridge.

The hearing wound up yesterday after three days.

Court of Appeal vice president Justice Robert Tang Ching, Justice Michael Hartmann and Justice Carlye Chu Fun- ling said they will deliver their judgment at a later date.

Dykes said the environmental impact reports for the projects fail to assess a pollutant called particulate matter 2.5, or PM2.5, which he said may pose health risks and should be assessed, although it is not listed in the territory’s air quality objectives.

But Yu argued that the reports look at the levels of respirable suspended particulates, which means particulate matter 10, or PM10.

PM2.5 particles, he said, are a subset of PM10, so it is already included.

Although PM2.5 is not separately listed in the air quality objectives, it has to be considered as a part of them, Yu added.

The projects are boundary-crossing facilities to be built on reclaimed land in waters northeast of Chek Lap Kok and a nearby link road.

Dykes also questioned a point made in the reports that 2031 would be the year of highest emissions. It did not necessarily mean overall air pollution.


Judge queries need for stand-alone tests in EIA

China Daily – 25 August 2011

The lawyer representing a woman whose petition to the courts resulted in a setback of several months on the planned construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge argued on Wednesday that the purpose of conducting environmental impact assessments (EIA) is to reduce the potential adverse impacts in projects under consideration.

Lawyer Philip Dykes, addressing a hearing before the Court of Appeal, was defending the need for separate analyses of air quality surrounding the bridge project – both in the absence of the bridge and after the bridge is built.

Justice Michael John Hartmann, after hearing Dyke’s argument, expressed doubt on his point that every project requires a stand-alone assessment.

Dykes spoke during the second day of a judicial review requested by Director of Environmental Protection Anissa Wong Sean-yee.

The Court of First Instance in an April judgment quashed Wong’s decision to approve the EIA report, on grounds that the air quality assessments of the project were incomplete.

Dykes is the senior counsel representing 65-year-old Chu Yee-wah, a Tung Chung resident who had petitioned the courts arguing the cross-border bridge project may harm her health.

Dykes’s remarks followed an argument by the lawyer for the Environmental Protection Department.

On Tuesday, Benjamin Yu Yuk-hoi, representing the environmental protection director,contended that a stand-alone analysis apart from the report was not necessary for every proposed project.

He said that the major source of pollution resulting from construction of the intercity bridge will be vehicle emissions, which may be reduced through supporting legislation, such as to exert restrictions on the number of cars that may use the bridge. Yu also argued that the extra analysis would make little sense because there were too many variables for any accurate appraisal.

The court will continue to hear the case on Thursday.

China Daily

Bridge case leads to more questions

Colleen Lee

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Court of Appeal judges questioned whether it is essential and important to produce a standalone analysis of projected environmental conditions without the Hong Kong- Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

It was the second day of the government’s appeal against a court ruling that quashed the environmental permit for two key elements of the proposed bridge, halting construction.

In April, the Court of First Instance ruled in favor of Tung Chung resident Chu Yee- wah, 65, who filed a judicial review saying the air quality impact assessments of the projects were not done properly.

The projects are boundary-crossing facilities to be built on reclaimed land northeast of Chek Lap Kok and a nearby link road.

In the Court of Appeal yesterday, Justice Michael Hartmann asked if an infrastructure project was planned for a polluting industrial site, and whether one needs to know what “actual impact” of that project would bring to the environment.

He wondered if it would be enough to find the cumulative emissions of the whole site, assuming the project took shape.

Justice Hartmann went on to ask if it is “idealistic” or “practical and essential” to carry out a standalone analysis.

Philip Dykes, representing Chu, said in the bridge case policymakers have to identify the difference in the projected emission levels, with and without the projects in place, to decide if the worsening pollution is acceptable.

As such, Dykes said, authorities can make an informed decision.

Court of Appeal vice president Justice Robert Tang Ching asked if a standalone analysis “may be less important” if ambient conditions of pollution must be minimized.

Dykes said a project proponent must mitigate emissions.

Justice Tang also asked if the director of environmental protection has discretion to refuse to grant an environmental permit, even though the impact assessment reports submitted comply with a government technical memorandum and the project’s study brief.

Traffic, not bridge, ’cause of pollution’

South China Morning Post – 24 August 2011

Government’s lawyer in HK-Zhuhai-Macau link appeal case argues that EIA law is just one legislative tool available to protect environment

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Ordinance is neither toothless nor the only legislative tool available to protect Hong Kong’s environment, the Court of Appeal heard yesterday.

Benjamin Yu, for the Environmental Protection Department, made this submission in the government’s appeal against a court ruling that quashed the environmental permit for the proposed Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

The ruling – handed down in April by Mr Justice Joseph Fok in a judicial review filed by Tung Chung resident Chu Yee-wah – was based on the ground that the bridge’s impact assessment report did not a present a standalone analysis of projected environmental conditions without the bridge.

Without the analysis, it would be difficult to measure the impact of such factors as air pollution, and impose appropriate mitigation measures, the ruling said.

But Yu said the traffic on the bridge, rather than the bridge itself, would be the source of pollution and this could be dealt with by other laws.

“During the bridge’s operational phase, pollution is not caused by the bridge but the vehicles using it, which are subject to a different set of control regimes on the engine or the vehicle fuels,” he told Mr Justice Robert Tang Ching, Madam Justice Carlye Chu Fun-ling and Justice Michael  Hartmann.

Yu made the point to support his claim that Hong Kong had two different environmental protection  approaches.

One, the environmental impact assessment system, focused on the maximum allowable cumulative pollution impact on the environment. The other approach focused on minimising the impact of individual activity.

Yu said Fok had seemed to fail to note that both approaches were part of the Air Pollution Control Ordinance – which specifies the maximum allowable air pollutant concentration and the best practical means to lower pollution for certain  activities.

“The Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance is … only one piece of legislation in the whole arm of environmental protection in Hong Kong,” he said.

Yu went on to suggest that the key issue was not whether the EIA law “lacks somehow armoury or ammunition” to protect the environment because the law mainly covered procedural matters.

As to how and what impact assessments, including the standalone analysis in question, should be done were set out in other documents like the technical memorandum and study brief issued by the Director of Environmental Protection.

Yu admitted that it was technically possible to carry out a separate assessment for the standalone analysis but that had never been required in the bridge impact study. There were also no guidelines or parameters for carrying out the analysis.

Yu will continue his submissions today.

Bus stop revamp to ease centre traffic

24 August 2011


From next Sunday traffic in downtown Macau could be easier, said the Transport Bureau, with 21 routes diverted from Avenida de D. João IV and Avenida do Infante D. Henrique

A total of 21 routes will be diverted from some of the busiest bus stops in downtown Macau from August 28 to ease traffic congestion, the Transport Bureau (DSAT) announced yesterday.
Avenida do Infante D. Henrique and Avenida de D. João IV will benefit most from the new measures, which also include an extension of routes MT1, MT2 and MT4 and the creation of a new bus stop near Regency hotel in Taipa.
“I’m sure it [the measures] will be able to cut down on the time it takes for buses to drop off and pick up passengers, as well as to ease traffic congestion,” said the head of DSAT’s Transport Management department, Dick Lo Seng Chi.
From next Sunday routes 3, 4, 6, 18, 18A and 9 will no longer stop at Avenida do Infante D. Henrique, in front of Macau Square. In addition buses 3 and 6 will also no longer stop at the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ) headquarters.
Moreover, routes 23 and 32 will not go through Avenida do Infante D. Henrique and will instead move into Avenida Dr. Mário Soares before continuing to Macau Tower.
The stop at Avenida de D. João IV near the Portuguese School will be less busy as well, with buses 2, 5, 5X, 7 and 10 no longer stopping there.
Route 28 A will also dodge stops at Avenida de D. João IV and DSEJ headquarters and instead continue to the bus hub at Praça Ferreira do Amaral, in front of Lisboa casino.
Finally route 28 B will move straight along Avenida da Praia Grande with a new stop at China Plaza.
Another stop will be created in Estrada Almirante Marques Esparteiro, near Regency hotel, and buses 21A, 22, 24, 25X, 26A, 28A, 33, 50, MT1 and N3 will stop there after crossing Nobre de Carvalho bridge into Taipa.
Also “in response to resident requests” routes MT1, MT2 and MT4 will be extended from its existing terminal at Praça Ferreira do Amaral. While MT1 and MT2 will continue until Praçeta 24 de Junho next to MGM casino and MT4 will go all the way to Praça de Ponte e Horta, at Praia do Manduco.

Reolian improving

New bus operator Reolian is improving its services “much faster than what we had anticipated,” Lo Seng Chi said.
The company “has faced problems and failed to fulfil the bus frequency required,” he acknowledged. But Reolian “has been improving every day” since the new public bus service was launched on August 1, the official stressed.
Still, he added, the operator needs to strengthen the training and attitude of its drivers.
DSAT is especially concerned over reports of conflicts between drivers and passengers. “We have already spoken with Reolian about this issue,” Lo said.
The bureau is also worried about several mechanical breakdowns that affected the company’s vehicles.
“Reolian’s buses are new but they were imported from mainland China and perhaps they are not prepared for the characteristics of the Macau road network,” the official said.
He stressed that most malfunctions occurred going up steep streets. “They should have a technician from the [bus] manufacturer on call to improve the mechanics,” Lo said.
Up until Sunday there were over 120 mechanical breakdowns affecting the buses of all three operators but in most cases the service was not affected. In addition there were 88 accidents with only a few causing injuries.
DSAT has warned new bus operator Reolian that it must provide full services by September 1 or face penalties. Transmac and TCM are currently helping Reolian fulfil some of its busier routes.
“We will see what Reolian’s ability is to boost its services. We have yet to reach a decision on eventual sanctions,” Lo said.

London rolls out dust suppressant technology

23 August 2011

The first trials of dust suppressant in the UK have shown it can reduce the amount of dust particulates in the air around roads. The pilot study, published in August by Transport for London (TfL), found daily concentrations of PM10 – particulates smaller than 10µm in diameter – fell by 10-14%.

The dust suppressant trials are part of a package of measures spearheaded by the Mayor of London to reduce PM10 pollution by a third by 2015. The European Commission granted the UK an extension till June this year to meet EU air quality standards for particulates or face the threat of large fines. According to TfL, models show that some local London hot-spots are still ‘at risk’ of breaking PM10 limits.

As well as exhaust emissions, airborne particulates can come from circulating – or re-suspended – road dust. This dust is a complex mixture of particles from sources including soil, pollen, road surfaces and tyres. Heavy traffic can produce high levels of dust re-suspension.

Dust suppressant technology

London will expand its use of dust suppressant technology to help it avoid falling foul of European clean air legislation

© TfL Corporate

The TfL team used calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), a combination of dolomitic lime and acetic acid, in water as a suppressant. The solution was spread at a rate of 10g/m2 at two sites in London over six months. Results were compared with controls. ‘It looks like a fine mildew, but it is not slippery at this application rate,’ says TfL project manager, Will Fooks.

The suppressant acts like a ‘glue’, explains Fooks. ‘Applications of CMA promote agglomeration of dust particles and help prevent them becoming airborne.’ Once the dust sticks to the glue, it is either washed away into drains or tracked away by tyres, he says. The glue seems to work well with PM10 and, to a certain extent, PM2.5, but not with PM1. Fooks says: ‘The micro-level impact on different size fractions has not been tested in detail, but it is research that we are looking into doing.’

The TfL report stresses that CMA is non-toxic, presents no significant risk of corrosion and is harmless to plants and water supplies. The calcium and magnesium components, the report says, can ‘benefit’ soil, just as liming a garden improves permeability, while the acetate portion biodegrades naturally. Following these results, TfL plans to expand the scheme to Park Lane and ‘corridors’, such as the A2, and industrial sites.

But some observers are sceptical about the usefulness of suppressants. ‘Suppressants may achieve compliance in localised areas near monitoring stations and avoid further action from the European Commission,’ says Alan Andrews of Client Earth, a group of lawyers working for environmental causes. ‘But they address the symptoms and not the causes of the problem. Another issue is that the suppressant doesn’t work with smaller particles, which are the ones that are the most dangerous for human health.’

Simon Birkett, founder of the Campaign for Clean Air in London, argues that suppressants merely mask, rather than reduce, PM10 levels. ‘The trial seems to have taken greater costs to achieve smaller reductions in concentrations than expected. The strategy seems to have been focused on trying to reduce pollution at locations breaching the PM10 daily limit value, but miss one and the UK gets a £300 million fine.’

Maria Burke

London Gets ‘Particulate’ About Air Quality

22 August 2011

As part of Mayor Boris Johnson’s Air Quality Strategy, London’s municipal transportation system will “fast-track and expand” a package of innovative anti-smog measures over the next nine months. The goal is to reduce pollution at the busiest intersections in central London by 10 to20 percent.

The announcement comes after UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond made an extra £5m ($8 million) in funding available in April to Transport for London, the City bureau responsible for public transit in Greater London.

The extra budget is specifically for a new Clean Air Fund, designed to help London comply withlegally binding European targets for Particulate Matter (PM) 10 and nitrous oxides. TheEuropean Commission (EU) increased pressure on the U.K. recently, warning that if it did not meet standards, the nation could risk fines of up to £300m ($500 million).

The first segment of Clean Air Fund work will comprise three initiatives:

1. The expansion of the application of dust suppressant — biodegradable saline solution (Calcium Magnesium Acetate) — which makes PM10 adhere to the roads and prevents it from recirculating in the air. The dust suppressant pilot study — a U.K.. first — ran from November 2010 to April 2011 at two locations, Victoria Embankment and Marylebone Road. Dust suppressant tests also have been conducted in Sweden, Norway, Austria, Italy and Germany

At Victoria Embankment, alone, tests showed that small, repeated applications can effectively reduce PM10 at curbside locations by as much as 14 percent on a daily basis. The scheme will continue to run on Victoria Embankment and Marylebone Road and also will be introduced at Park Lane and corridors such as the A2. In addition, trials at industrial and construction sites will be launched, to help tackle the source of pollutants where there are high levels of PM10. Two additional vehicles are set to be converted to apply the dust suppressant, enabling the two trial sites to be expanded into more areas, including the construction sites.

2. The promotion of a No Engine Idling Campaign, in order to reduce unnecessary exhaust from stationary motor vehicles. Black cabs account for around a quarter of PM10 emissions in central London, with up to 15 percent of that estimated to be as a result of taxi drivers leaving their engines idling when stationary. A team of five “eco-marshals” will monitor taxi stands at busy central London mainline stations and other on-street stands where air quality is particularly poor, and will serve as ambassadors for eco-driving courses designed to reduce emissions and save cabbies money via more efficient driving techniques.

The eco-marshals will be current TfL staff members, assigned on temporary duty, two of whom also are licensed London taxi drivers. They will conduct research that will be used to inform future activity, identify where to focus efforts, and develop better methodology to help taxi and private hire drivers change driving habits. Their research also will consider whether to change taxi rank layout and design.

TfL’s Managing Director for Surface Transport, has also written to coach, bus and freight operators to encourage their drivers to switch off their engines while stationary.

3. A greening program throughout London will “trap” pollution and beautify the city.Studies across Europe and the U.S. have shown the potential of vegetation, including trees and plants, to trap PM10. A row of 50 six-foot-tall planters has been installed along Lower Thames Street, one of central London’s most polluted roads. The planters will contain summer bedding plants, to help trap particulate matter, and will be replaced with ivy in the winter. These stand-alone planted towers are being used to test the benefits of green screens (vegetated barriers), which are considered a feasible option for the roadside, where footways are wider, as they will not provide barriers to pedestrian movement or impede visibility.

Other green infrastructure, including green walls and trees, will be placed at potential PM10 pollution hot spots across London. The Air Pollution Research in London Group (APRIL) is helping to evaluate the air quality, and wider environmental and climatic benefits of the green infrastructure measures

Air quality modeling shows that the vast majority of London already meets the EU limit value for annual average PM10, but there are some local hot spots identified as being “at risk” of exceeding limits. The EU recently confirmed to the U.K. government that the mayor’s plans to reduce PM10 pollution by a third by 2015—including the work of the Clean Air Fund —have lifted the looming threat of hefty fines.

Kulveer Ranger, the mayor’s environment director, commented: “Pollution is a serious health issue and the Mayor is determined to reduce its impact. A comprehensive package of clean-up measures, including innovative technology, is now being targeted where most needed in central London. In addition, action is being taken to deliver a permanent legacy of cleaner air right across the Capital. ”

Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard (News – Alert) Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.