Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology covered 1 block in the city of Hengelo, Netherlands, with pavers sprayed with titanium oxide, which can remove pollutants from the air and convert them into less harmful chemicals, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Normal pavement was left on an adjacent street as a control sample.
Dubbed photocatalytic pavement, the new street covering proved to reduce nitrogen oxide air pollution by up to 45 percent in ideal weather conditions, the scientists said.
Nitrogen oxides produced by cars and power plants can react with other compounds in the atmosphere to form smog.
The research "shows the potential of chemically engineered surfaces to further improve our quality of life, especially in major urban areas where traffic emissions are high," David Brown, head of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, said in a statement.