Lonely Planet Writer

London may be getting hi-tech units on bus stops and Tube platforms that zap air pollution

A new invention that adds oxidation filters to bus stops, the sides of buildings and Tube platforms could help counteract pollution in London. Airlabs, a start-up based in the English capital, has invented technology designed to zap exhaust fume particles and pump out fresh air for pedestrians.

Hi-tech bus stops that zap air pollution could be coming to London. Image: Howard Kingsnorth
Hi-tech bus stops that zap air pollution could be coming to London. Image: Howard Kingsnorth

London is infamous for its alarming levels of air pollution, and has already breached internationally-agreed safe levels this year. Outdoor air pollution contributes to approximately 40,000 premature deaths annually in the UK, according to the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics.

Hi-tech bus stops that zap air pollution could be coming to London. Image: Halbergman/Getty Images
Hi-tech bus stops that zap air pollution could be coming to London. Image: Halbergman/Getty Images

Airlabs claims that its technology is most effective in high-density areas, including Oxford Street in London, where pollution levels breached the legal limit for an entire year after just four days last year. Its chief executive, Sophie Power, says that its system is suited to city infrastructure, and is particularly beneficial for people who stand close to exhaust level on the road.

London Underground Station
Hi-tech units that zap air pollution could be coming to London Underground platforms. Image by Rudi Riet / CC BY 2.0

Independent tests on the Airlabs  system have been described as “promising” and it is planned to place a further test unit on Oxford Street. The technology has been developed at the University of Copenhagen, harnessing a process that is found naturally in the atmosphere. It sees sunlight, ozone and water vapour working together to oxidise pollution and turn it into particles that can be more easily collected and removed from the air.

Young couple reading a map by Tower Bridge, London, England.
Young couple reading a map by Tower Bridge, London, England. Image: Gary John Norman/Getty Images

This development is also good news for visitors to London, as it means that they will be able to breathe more easily while taking in the sights.