Shaocai Yu of Zhejiang University in China and North Carolina State University, writing in the Springer journal Environmental Chemistry Letters, suggests spraying water into the atmosphere to simulate natural types of precipitation that are able to collect and remove aerosol and gaseous pollutants from the air.
The approach could help reduce the severe air pollution and heavy haze experienced in many Chinese cities during a decades-long burst of economic and industrial growth, Yu said.
The water-based geoengineering scheme could help to reduce the fine particle concentration in the atmosphere efficiently, he said.
Because the water could be collected and reused, adopting this kind of plan would not exacerbate existing water shortages, he said.
"With careful and considered evaluation beforehand for each area in the cities, this geoengineering approach can be environmentally safe without significant side effects," Yu wrote. "It can also be deployed easily within communities and on a massive scale at low cost."
"If you can spend half an hour watering your garden, you can also spend 30 minutes watering your ambient atmosphere to keep the air clean with this technique."