Over the last few months a fleet of lorries has been visiting London’s most polluted streets to spray them with adhesive.

The calcium-based solution is said to stick pollution in the air to the tarmac.

But Frank Kelly of King’s College London, an expert on pollution’s impact on human health, says the practise is a “waste of public money”.

“This does not deal with the problem at source. The moment they stop the spraying, the problem arises again.”

The three lorries work between midnight and 6am to cover 19 miles (30km) of roads around Victoria Embankment, Earl’s Court Road, roads leading to the Blackwall Tunnel and in the Euston area.

This is the first time such a technique – which aims to stop fumes causing asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular problems and premature death – has been used in the UK.

Earlier this year, a major air quality study ranked London among the worst European cities for air pollution, coming behind Glasgow, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Only Dusseldorf, Milan and Rome were found to have worse air than London.

Bad air quality accounts for almost 500,000 premature deaths a year throughout Europe.