University study reveals fall in St Paul’s erosion

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INDUSTRIAL decline and cleaner energy production have led to pollution erosion at St Paul’s Cathedral in London being at a 300-year low, a study by Portsmouth scientists has found.

A survey of the iconic building’s Portland Stone facade found sulphur dioxide levels – responsible for acid rain – have fallen by 95 per cent over 30 years.

The results from the building’s balustrade mean the Christopher Wren masterpiece is the safest it has ever been from erosion, the study from the universities of Portsmouth, Oxford, Sussex and Cambridge claimed.

The researchers concluded that the building is now safe having survived the ravages of a growing metropolis, the Industrial Revolution, the plumes of sulphuric dioxide gas and smoke from the nearby Bankside Power Station – now the Tate Modern – and Londoners’ love of coal fires.

Scientists co-ordinated by Robert Inkpen from the University of Portsmouth monitored the rate of erosion on the building’s balustrade between 1980 and 2010.

Dr Inkpen said: ‘We were surprised that the results were so compelling – the drop in erosion over 30 years is quite dramatic and the data clearly illustrates erosion rates have now fallen to levels you would expect with just natural rainfall.’