by Brianna Crandall — April 28, 2017 — A ground-breaking material that has been hailed by top medical experts for its ability to absorb harmful airborne molecules and disperse cleaner air was launched recently in Leicester Square, London. The material is called “The Breath” and was created by a team of leading Italian researchers. It was first developed in 2014 and over the last three years has been rolled out across several European cities, including Rome and Milan.
In 2017, it was announced that The Breath would work in an exclusive partnership with Urban Vision, a media company that specializes in the sponsored restoration of historical monuments and buildings throughout Europe. The material will be used on all of Urban Vision’s future outdoor advertising sites in London and Italy, although it is useful for both indoor and outdoor applications.
The launch of The Breath comes following a series of alarming studies warning about the dangers posed by air pollution to Londoners, notes Urban Vision, to which many other cities can relate.
A recent study commissioned by Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, found that tens of thousands of children in 802 of London’s schools are exposed to illegal levels of air pollution that can damage their health permanently. Similarly, a study conducted by Kings College London for Transport for London and the Greater London Authority found that in 2010 dirty air contributed towards up to 9,500 deaths in London. The same study estimated the annual economic cost of these health impacts was equivalent to £3.7 billion.
Gianluca de Marchi, global president at Urban Vision, said:
More needs to be done to tackle the scourge of air pollution. I believe the use of innovative technologies such as The Breath will help to contribute towards improving the health of Londoners. Urban Vision has a strong reputation for looking after cultural and historical beauty in some of the world’s most important cities. But today we can say that our work also contributes to improving the environment and protecting people’s health from the harmful effects of air pollution.
According to Anemotech, The Breath’s inventors, the material uses a series of nanomolecules and the local atmosphere’s natural air flow to remove harmful pollutants such as nitrous oxides, sulphur oxides and particulates. The material can be used for both indoor and outdoor purposes, including for office workstations, classrooms and public advertising spaces.
The Breath’s Italian inventors claim that once the material is installed it can absorb high concentrations of air pollution within a 25-meter area. By installing 250 sq m of the material over a one year period, The Breath’s inventors claim its impact on the environment is the equivalent of removing pollution from over 750,000 unleaded vehicles and 300,000 diesel cars.
The Breath, which has won a series of technological and innovation awards in Italy, was hailed last year by Professor Umberto Veronesi, the former scientific director at the European Institute for Oncology. In March 2016, Veronesi said The Breath was a good example of the benefits from the alliance between technology and science, which he said was important in helping to “win the fight in the treatment and prevention of cancer.”
Initial tests from 1-4 Leicester Square carried out by Universitá Politecnica delle Marche in Italy last autumn have proved to be positive, according to Urban Vision. Using these initial results, researchers at The Breath estimate that just two 10 sq m sheets of The Breath correctly positioned in the square over a one-year period could cancel out nitrogen oxide emissions from 5,475 diesel vehicles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from 13,650 unleaded cars.