UK researchers develop road barriers that deflect air pollution.

Designed by researchers at Imperial College London, these curved barriers deflect pollution away from pedestrians and back onto the road. — AFP

Researchers in the UK have come up with urban infrastructure that can help protect people from the damaging effects of air pollution.

Thanks to their curved shape, these roadside barriers are designed to protect pedestrians from fine particles from vehicle emissions by deflecting them back towards the road.

When watching her child playing in a school playground alongside a busy main road in London, Tilly Collins, a researcher at the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London, started to worry about the future of children living on such a polluted planet.

As part of her research, Dr Collins realized that fine particles emitted by vehicles were becoming trapped in vortices near roadside walls, making pedestrians -- and children -- particularly vulnerable. Together with her colleague Huw Woodward, she began investigating types of urban infrastructure that could mitigate these vortex effects and improve air quality for pedestrians.

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