Lack of long-term air pollution solutions endangers public health

Serious levels of pollution caused by motor vehicles are forcing the mayor to wash the worst-affected London streets in an effort to avoid large EU fines.

The measure comes at the same time as the proposed scrapping the western extension of the congestion charge zone and halting any expansion of the low-emission zone, policies that adversely affect air quality.

The mayor has also reduced the number of emissions tests the capital's fleet of 21,000 black cabs have to take from two to one per year, even taxis are some of the worst polluters in the capital.

Transport for London is trialling the street-washing measures in areas of the highest air pollution such as Euston Road and Hyde Park Corner, as outlined in the Air Quality Action Plan launched in spring 2010.

The plan was a response to areas in London exceeding minimum EU air quality regulations, leaving the city open to fines running into hundreds of millions of pounds.

Air pollution causes premature death in up to 3500 people every year in London by creating and exacerbating respiratory illnesses.

The major cause of particulate matter (fine particles of dust) pollution in urban areas is motor vehicles.

LCC's Mike Cavenett said, "TfL has explained the street cleaning procedure to us, and we're satisfied they've looked closely at the impact on cyclist safety from putting this particular liquid on the roads.

"However, we're disappointed that this measure isn't backed up by long-term policies that can solve the problem of London having the worst air pollution in Europe."