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London mayor accused of hiding pollution

United Kingdom,Environment/Wildlife, Wed, 25 Apr 2012 IANS

London, April 24 (IANS) London Mayor Boris Johnson has been accused by opposition Labour MPs of using dust particle suppressants around air quality monitors in the British capital to bring down the monitor readings.


The pollution suppressants were "like putting an oxygen mask on the canary in the mines", Barry Gardiner, one of the 34 Labour MPs who have written to environment secretary Caroline Spelman asking her to investigate, was quoted as saying by the Guardian.


Canaries were once regularly used in coal mining as an early warning system. Toxic gases like Carbon monoxide and Methane in the mine would kill the bird before affecting the miners.


Under a programme, calcium magnesium acetate has been used on two key sites for air pollution control. The chemical traps pollutant particles. A trial found that suppressants could reduce pollution levels by up to 14 percent.


But the Labour MPs claim the suppressants only cut pollution in the immediate vicinity of the monitoring stations, leaving most of the surrounding air still laden with harmful particulate matter.


The European Union has threatened to levy fines on London because of its poor air quality and the number of violations at monitoring stations.


More than 4,000 deaths were caused by air pollution in London in 2008, according to a study.


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