Using Innovation to Combat Air Pollution Around the Globe

Global air pollution isn’t something that can be swept under the rug, or that is going to fade with time. In fact, it’s getting worse. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4 out of 5 residents of cities with pollution measurements are facing particulate air pollution levels beyond WHO recommendations.

Fortunately, many major countries and metropolitan areas are not taking steps to mitigate air pollution. Here are seven innovation methods and devices that are being used to combat air pollution around the globe.

  1. City-Wide Air Purifiers

One of China’s environmental solutions is to install massive air purifiers in its most polluted cities. The air purifier filters the air in an area by removing particles. The tower is 20 feet tall and can purify up to 1,000 cubic feet of air per hour. The continuing challenge is to create an air purifier that doesn’t run on electricity.

  1. Electronic Trees

An air purifier on a smaller scale, this electronic tree sits outside your home and cleans the air that is entering your living space. The device was developed in Peru and is called “The Peruvian Super Tree.” It uses a water filtration system to remove bacteria and carbon dioxide from the air.

  1. Cloud Seeding

When a city is stuck in drought conditions, the air pollution levels are going to be much higher. While praying for rain is one option, some scientists have figured out a way to “seed” clouds to artificially generate condensation. In fact, China is said to have used this approach in 2008 to clean out its polluted skies prior to hosting the Olympic games.

  1. Smog-Eating Buildings

While Mexico isn’t known for its clean air, there is a unique program underway in Mexico City to fight air pollution. The city’s hospital called the Torre de Especialidades is constructed of tiles that are coated with titanium oxide. The tiles become activated by UV rays, which are then capable of converting mono-nitrogen oxide (pollution) into a less harmful material.

  1. Pigeon Air Patrol

Before you can clean up air pollution, you must have a way to measure its levels. A group in London is using a squad of racing pigeons to do just that. These ten pigeons are outfitted with pollution-measuring backpacks and then sent through the skies into various parts of the city.

  1. Building Materials From Air Pollution

In Beijing, a Chinese artist took to the streets with a novel idea and an invention. He “vacuumed” up more than 100 grams of pollution particles from the city’s air, mixed it with clay, and turned it into a brick that can be used for construction purposes.

  1. Carbon Into Ink

An MIT graduate came up with the idea to turn the black smoke that comes out of car mufflers and chimneys into printer ink. Anirudh Sharma and his team created a handheld capture device which can be attached to a vehicle. The collected “smog” can then be mixed with oil and alcohol to create an alternative to traditional printer ink.

Despite the progress being made in some countries and cities, air pollution continues to impact people’s health and the environment. These new advances and disrupters will continue to push the envelope in working towards solutions to reduce air pollution and the damage that it causes.


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