An invention that turns buildings into pollution-absorbing "sponges" could soon offer help in the future.
With most parts of London, Yorkshire, and the east, south-east and north-west of England likely to be affected badly by smog, London's Mayor Boris Johnson has said that he is ready to try out the invention created by scientists at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Valencia, Spain.
According to The Independent, the scientists have developed a substance that can be added to building surfaces such as glass, cement or ceramic tiles to remove pollution from the air by triggering chemical reactions.
The substance, known as OFFNOx, uses sunlight, water and oxygen to transform the dangerous pollutant nitrogen dioxide into a harmless white coating that can be washed away by rain.
Nitrogen dioxide reacts in sunlight to form ozone, one of the pollutants prompting serious health concerns. It can be one of the causes of asthma and reduced lung function.
Currently available as a ceramic tile, OFFNOx has just completed trials in Barcelona, which is also affected by severe pollution.
Professor Hermenegildo GarcĄa, of Universidad Polit?cnica de Valencia, said: "There are different alternatives - not to run cars with gasoline, or not to burn any fuels. But with the current technology, with all the cars and transportation, there is no other way than the one we have developed."
With the Olympics just a year away, methods to reduce pollution without banning cars from central London are being examined by the Mayor Johnson's team.
A paint to remove pollution through a comparable process was recently put on trial in the London Borough of Camden, and according to Dr. Ben Barratt of King's College London, the preliminary results were positive for some nitrous oxides.
He, however, warned that success depended on enough air coming into contact with the treated surface.