The anti pee paint to be used by the council on Soho’s streets to deter revellers is already used in many cities worldwide, including several in the UK.
Westminster is the fourth local authority to roll out the superhydrophobic coating which deters urinators by splashing liquid back at them.
Last week the Council declared “pee back time” on those choosing to relieve themselves publicly in busy night spots, starting in Soho and then expanding to five other areas in the new year, in a bid to placate suffering residents and bring down the costs associated with cleaning urine up, estimated to be £950,000.
The paint in question contains a water repellant layer which gives public urinators a “nasty surprise” as the liquid bounces back at them.
An example of this is a product called Ultra-Ever Dry. It comprises of mostly acetone (the stuff used in nail varnish remover and silicon dioxide. But its crucial element is an unnamed additive which makes up just 1%.
The effect is similar to pouring liquid on a lotus leaf, where instead of being absorbed into the leaf, it forms a dome shaped droplet, while the plant remains matted.
According to the manufacturers though, surfaces need to be regularly maintained, recommending a fresh lick of paint at least once annually.
One of the first places to introduce the urine repellant paint was Hamburg’s St Pauli red light district, which used to attract 20 million revellers a year. It has since gone global and can be found
And it’s no stranger to London either, having been first trialled in Hackney back in 2015. It has since been rolled out or considered in a number of other boroughs including Camden.
The technology has encountered some drawbacks however. Concerns over some unintentional consequences were previously raised in Manchester, particularly around the impact of splashing due to wet weather.
The solution doesn’t come cheap either. Ultra Ever Dry comes in at around $700 (approx £585) per six square metres, which means you would need to literally “splash out” at least £31,000 just to cover one side of Greek Street!
Image: Flickr/Garry Knight.