As cities sprawl over more land, air quality has become a pressing concern. Industries generate fine particles, usually from burning fuel or wood, that according to Dutch startup Envinity Group are the “greatest threat to public health,” and air pollution is responsible for at least 400,000 deaths every single year. Envinity Group designed what they call the world’s first huge outdoor air vacuum to suck up these toxic particles.

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Envinity Group unveiled their device at the Offshore Energy 2016 Exhibition & Conference in Amsterdam. Company spokesperson Henk Boersen said, “It’s a large industrial filter about eight meters (yards) long, made of steel…placed basically on top of buildings and it works like a big vacuum cleaner. A large column of air will pass through the filter and come out clear.”

Related: World’s largest smog-sucking vacuum cleaner could rid cities of pollution

According to the company, the device filters out 100 percent of fine particles and 95 percent of ultra-fine particles. It can filter across huge areas, inhaling air from a radius of 300 meters, or nearly 1,000 feet. It can also treat 800,000 cubic meters, or around 28,251,733 cubic feet, of air in just one hour. The Energy Research Center of the Netherlands tested Envinity Group’s prototype.

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Envinity Group paints a dire portrait of fine particles on their website: unawares, we breath them in each day. Over 90 percent of people living in the European Union, for example, are exposed to the particles at levels greater than recommended by the World Health Organization, which says fine particles are carcinogenic. Ultra-fine particles are even more insidious and are released in airplane and vehicle emissions, or during waste incineration. Envinity Group says they damage the nervous system and even cause infections.

Envinity’s filtering system is the “first of its kind in the world,” according to the company, allowing people to protect against “silent killers.” Boersen said the device is already sparking interest from airports, businesses, and governments.

+ Envinity Group

Via Phys.org

Images via Envinity Group/AFP and Envinity Group