GROUNDBREAKING filter systems operating on buses could provide a boost to cleaning pollution in Southamp-ton.

Today the Go-Ahead Group launches the UK’s first air filtering bus that will clean air as it travels around on its route.

Bosses believe the filter, placed on top of the Bluestar 7 vehicle, will take approximately 99.5%of small, harmful particles in the air.

If successful, Bluestar hopes to install the filters on its entire fleet of buses.

Andrew Wickham, managing director of Bluestar, pictured below, said: “The air will pass through the filter and remove particular matters, and clean air comes out of the other end.

“The air is a real problem for people’s health, especially those with pre-existing respiratory and lung conditions.

“It can lead to asthma and premature death, so by cleaning the air in this way it could lead to a number of lives being saved.”

The filter is operated by GG, which chose to try the system in Southampton after the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed the city was at its limit of unsafe air pollution.

GG’s chief executive David Brown, pictured right, said: “We want this pilot to show that buses should be looked at as not just the solution to congestion in cities, but also as a solution to the air quality problem.

“As the bus removes the ultrafine particles from the air, it is helping solve the air quality problems of the city.”

The associated health problems of outdoor air pollution are linked to 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide, according to the WHO.

In the UK, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) estimates that particulate air pollution reduces the life expectancy of residents by six months on average.

Earlier this year, Bluestar unveiled a new £7m fleet of low emission buses in order to bring the firm up to speed with the new clean air zone restrictions.

Councillor Stephen Leggett cabinet member for green city welcomed the “pioneering” technology.

He said: “GG is one of many businesses who are part of our Clean Air Network, and are delivering on their pledge to

reduce emissions. As such their support in moving towards cleaner air is crucial.

“This type of forward thinking and proactive practical advances in technology are just what will eventually help us improve air quality for everyone in the city.

We hope that all businesses, however big or small ,will join the Clean Air Network and become part of the solution.”