Business, Economics and Jobs

London Olympics: Mayor accused of hiding pollution with dust suppressants


Olympics minister Hugh Robertson (left), London 2012 Chief Executive Paul Deighton (second from left), and CEO of GSK Sir Andrew Witty (2nd from right), are shown a vial of blood by Professor David Cowan, the Head of Science for London 2012, in the anti-doping laboratory which will test athlete's samples from the London 2012 Games.


Oli Scarff

In January, organizers of the London Olympics unveiled a high-tech laboratory that will test athletes for performance-enhancing drugs. But while officials have long been concerned about athletes who artificially improve their game, lately another kind of performance-enhancing device has come under fire: dust suppressants.

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A government report reveals that London Mayor Boris Johnson recommended that workers use dust suppressants near pollution monitoring stations, the Daily Telegraph reported. Dust suppressants don't have any public health benefit, according to the Telegraph. But using dust suppressants near the pollution reading stations would cause the readings to come up with an artificially low number.  

Johnson insists that the plan to use dust suppressants is just a short-term solution to combat poor air quality in areas with bad traffic, Public Service reported

But Simon Birkett, the director of Clean Air London, is accusing Johnson trying to avoid fines from the EU.  If the stations detect high levels of pollution, the city could be fined tens of millions of pounds by the EU, the Telegraph said.

"This is deadly serious. We’re talking about dangerous particles," Birkett told the Daily Mail. "It’s public health fraud on an industrial scale to use pollution suppressants in front of the air quality monitors most relied on to warn the public of smog episodes and report legal breaches."

In February, Clean Air London filed a formal complaint with the EU about the UK's failure to comply with air quality laws, Public Service reported