According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of city dwellers are breathing polluted air. Smog is linked to respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular disease.  

In 2012, Italy had the most pollution-related deaths in Europe. More than 84,000 people in the country died prematurely owing to bad air quality. Milan remains one of the worst polluted cities, not only in the country but also on the continent. 

To combat this, scientists have developed a new type of photocatalytic cement that absorbs pollutants and turns them into harmless salts.  

Opened in 2015, the Palazzo Italia in Milan is one of the first buildings in the world to use pollution-eating cement.

"This is 9,000 square metres of active concrete and this can clean the air of the equivalent of exhaust gases from 100 diesel cars or almost 300 gasoline cars," says Enrico Borgarello, the innovation director for the company that designed the building. "It's a significant impact."

Gelareh Darabi travels to Milan to learn about the effects of this new biodynamic cement on air quality. 

Completed in 2015, the Palazzo Italia in Milan is one of the first buildings in the world that uses cement which cleans the air [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]

Source: Al Jazeera