Dust supressant trials Kings Cross to Edgeware Road

P1030841 I lived for a year or two in the heart of the roaring Kings Cross gyratory on the Cally Road.  It was an early-Victorian flat with poor insulation and bad secondary glazing.  The amount of fine black dust that would come into the flat was extraordinary.  It was generated by the passing traffic.  Amongst this dust was undoubtedly PM10 – the finest dust caused by tyre and brake abrasion and associated with a range of health problems amongst the young and the old.  A 2010 report for the Mayor said that over 4,000 early deaths were caused by long term exposure to air pollution:

It is widely accepted by the medical and scientific communities that there is a link between exposure to air pollution and the effects on health. These effects can vary in severity including mortality (death) and morbidity (the occurrence of illnesses throughout a life time). The evidence base from scientific studies shows that increased levels of fine particles in the air can increase risks of death. Increased exposure to particulates aggravates respiratory and cardio vascular conditions and research has shown that these particles can be inhaled deep into the respiratory tract.

The UK is in a lot of trouble with the EU for not taking measures to reduce PM10 pollution.   I finally got around to researching the 'dust supressant' trial advertised by the large yellow signs at Kings Cross. TfL says:

'The dust suppressant is a solution made up of Calcium Magnesium Acetate that literally sticks the particulate matter to the carriageway and prevents it re-circulating in the air. It is a biodegradable saline solution that will be sprayed in very small amounts, evenly on roads in the two trial sites.

'As part of the trial the carriageway is first swept and jetwashed by a machine similar to a road dust sweeper and then the solution is applied by a modified winter gritting machine that has a very fine sprinkler-like system attached to it. It will be applied several times a week as deemed necessary in the early hours. The trial will last for six months and is hoped to reduce PM10 where it is used by 10-20 per cent.

The two sites being treated under the trial are:
* A3211, from Waterloo Bridge through Victoria Embankment, Upper Thames Street ending at Tower Hill; and
* A501, Marylebone Road and Euston Road from the A5 Edgware Road to York Way at King’s Cross station.'

Whilst this is welcome it does feel a bit like lipstick on a pig – the real underlying issue is the sheer volume of traffic on the arterial routes through Kings Cross. Reduce that and pollution comes down, noise comes down, pedestrian safety goes up and the area overall becomes more attractive. 

TfLs general subservience to the car and its predominance over pedestrains on these arterial routes has been the bain of local campaigners trying to improve the street scene. TfL and Mayoral staff should be simply made to spend two rush hours walking on the streets around Kings Cross repeatedly crossing the roads near the station in different directions, preferably in the rain and dark with a baby buggy or luggage.  Then they would soon sort it out.

Anyway let's see how the trial goes.  Has anyone noticed a difference yet? Will put in an FOI request.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
This entry was posted in Bad Gyrations KX Campaign, Community Health and Welfare, Transport. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Dust supressant trials Kings Cross to Edgeware Road

  1. Andy Elvers says:

    The big problem here is not just PM10 it’s also NOX. And the real culprit is diesel vehicles. This includes buses, taxis, lorries and increasingly cars as well. One unfortunate side effect of the obsession with CO2 (which causes no direct problems to Kings Cross residents at all) has been a shift to diesel cars which produce far more NOX and particulates that directly affect our health. Unfortunately Euro 6 doesn’t come into force until 2015 which will force diesel cars to use Adblue and other additives to reactive with exhaust gases and significantly reduce these emissions which directly affect air quality.

    The air quality station that is causes so much worry; and has already exceeded the PM10 daily limit 33 times out of the maximum of 35 allowed in 2011, is on the Marylebone Road between Regents Park and Baker Street. I would say that the air quality outside Kings X is worse. We have more bus routes for a start. Why these aren’t all hybrid I have no idea, and why are they still running on diesel? L.A. and other cities in the world have moved their buses off diesel why can’t London? I’m afraid an obsession with Hydrogen has been a problem here – reaching for a technology that is still 10 years away when there are alternatives that could make a real difference now. The same applies to Taxi’s. Those lovely black LTI cabs make look very retro and handsome but boy do they throw out a lot of crap. They are some of the most polluting vehicles in London. Kings X is swarming with them.

    The other big problem for Kings X and the Euston / Marylebone Rd is that we are on the northern edge of the Congestion zone. By definition there is always going to be lots of traffic on this road.

  2. Andrew says:

    What happens if it exceeds the 35 maximum allowed (which I assume it will if it has already exceeded 33)?

  3. Clare Hill says:

    Thanks, a very educational post (and comment). Received a green newsletter today from Camden touting its new air monitoring station on Euston Road near (new) St Pancras church. It’s for NO2. The link leads to a selection of info on air quality and monitoring, some useful, some not so.

    These maps are quite telling though. Pretty easy to see where KX is without a label:

    For air-monitoring anoraks you can also plot your own graphs:
    (nearest data availability Bloomsbury)

    I scoffed a bit when I saw signs for ‘pollution absorbing pavement’ installed by Camden on Southampton Row some years back. Maybe a similar kind of thing.

    I have to say though, the sign’s a form of visual pollution and a physical obstruction. I can’t think of any practical reason why it has to be that size except for propaganda. And what sort of response is it supposed to elicit?

  4. Tim Henderson says:

    My guess is that PM10 is worse for Quarter 1 of 2011 than for 2010 and my hunch is there is more congested traffic along the Marylebone Road since WEZ was abolished. And the CMA glue solution isn’t very effective at gluing it.

    The history of CMA comes from Scandinavia where it was judged at being successful in reducing the dust created when cars with snow chains were driven on urban streets and caused breakup of the road surface. My feel is that the chemistry might be right for CMA to stick bits of road together but quite possibly not right to try to stick oily diesel deposits and bits of brake pad and tyre together. It might also be interesting to think where the CMA goes. If it rains it goes down the drain and is broken down (presumably at a cost) in the sewage works (or it pollutes the Thames). If it doesn’t rain and the water evaporates it either leads to a deposit on the road surface (anyone noticed the roads getting higher) or it forms a powder which could well be resuspended……… Of course it could be that the road-sweeping before the application removes the stuff that was put down last time.

    I’ve got a whatdotheyknow request in for the traffic levels on the Marylebone Road in Q1.
    The Surface Transport Panel of TfL have had a preliminary discussion on the effects of abolishing WEZ but I am expecting a report to be submitted to their next meeting on May 11th.

  5. Tim Henderson says:

    From the papers of the TfL Surface Transport Panel


    “Within the context of an extremely constrained business plan, TfL is delivering a
    trial of targeted cleaning and the application of dust suppressants (CADS) via its Highway Maintenance Works Contractors and the Roads Directorate. The trial concluded at the end of April 2011 and a full report will be made available. Initial results suggest significant benefits in reducing levels of local PM (10-20 per cent). There remains £100k in the business plan for additional CADS at priority locations during 2011/12.”

    The final agreed package of measures submitted and agreed by the DfT is as follows:

    (long list including…..)

    “Applying dust suppressants at priority locations
    Intensified application of CADS – to cover the period outside existing trial period”

    “The money has to be spent this financial year (2011/12) and the DfT expect on-the-ground air quality improvements to be delivered as soon as possible in order to demonstrate action in this area before the 11 June 2011 compliance deadline.”

  6. Tim Henderson says:

    The Surface Transport Panel doesn’t appear to have had an update on the effects of abolishing WEZ.

    My request for traffic info gave me huge spreadsheets of data for traffic and speed counts for Jan to March of 2010 and 2011 – unfortunately it was missing a couple of weeks from Jan (counter wasn’t working !) and it was too early to get the full download for March 2011.

    So just comparing February my preliminary thoughts (to be confirmed) were that car traffic at the counters had gone up ~3% , vans down 6%, but lorries up 10% and buses/coaches down 25%. Curious.
    WEZ or the economy ?

    (The counts did show up a huge reduction in traffic flows and incredibly slow speeds on 27th Feb 2011 – a Sunday when two lanes were closed for roadworks at Baker Street)

  7. danieljmarsh says:

    The results from this study can be viewed at:

    Click to access evaluation-dust-suppressants-pmconcentrations.pdf

    If you wish to receive updates on the latest pollution levels in your area (we have a monitoring station on the Euston Road) you can download the free LondonAir app for apple and android devices:


    There is also a CityAir app which you can download to help you to navigate through London using the least polluted roads.

    Follow @LondonAir and @LondonAirNow on twitter for updates and forecasts

    I hope that this is useful

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