Waste management sites contribute up to a quarter of the harmful particles being released into the air, according to a study carried out by the Environmental Research Group at King’s College, London.
The study conducted in the London borough of Lewisham set out to investigate the effect waste treatment facilities have on the levels of particulate matter (PM10) found in the air.
And according to the study, which lasted 19 months, local waste management businesses were found to contribute 27% of the mean PM10 daily concentration measured at an Air Quality Management Site (AQMS) in Lewisham.
Measurements of the amount of particulate found in the air were taken hourly at Lewisham’s AQMS at Mercury Way, which houses a scrap metal site, a waste separation facility and an asphalt treatment and processing business between February 2010 and September 2011.
Although the concentration measured met the limits set by the European Union, the industrial sources increased the number of times the level was exceeded from 5 to 25 days compared to monitoring sites in urban areas.
The study also showed that the levels of particulate in the air had a marked weekly and daily pattern, with elevated levels from 7 am to 6 pm from Monday to Friday.
Since January the Mercury Way area has been one of five areas across the capital to be the subject of a trial of technology intended to cut air pollution, funded by the Mayor of London, Transport for London and the Environment Agency.
The trial involves a dust suppressant solution made up of made up of Calcium Magnesium Acetate, which is applied to road each week and acts as a glue to stick particles to the ground.
Earlier tests of the technology at Marylebone Road and the Victoria Embankment were found to reduce PM10 levels in the air by around 14%.