Air pollution has become one of the world’s biggest threats to the future of our planet. Chronic air pollution shortens our lives and the lives of the ecology around us. In parts of Asia, where air pollution is most pervasive, food crops and other plants are exhibiting signs of stress due to low air quality.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released estimates on air pollution, revealed that there were 7 million recorded premature deaths attributed to air pollution in 2012, a number more than double previous estimates. WHO’s newly computed estimates confirm the placement of air pollution as the world’s most severe environmental health risk.
In response to this news many cities are being forced to look at new technologies and revisit older strategies. Initiatives to get people to use eco-friendly forms of transportation instead of automobiles have become more commonplace. Additionally the EPA has implemented stricter standards and enforced greater penalties on big polluters in an effort to curb the activity. These strategies have all been helpful but cities are recognizing that they need more and better technology to reverse the WHO’s daunting numbers. A few of these innovative technologies are highlighted here:
University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) researchers from Peru have installed a billboard that dissolves pollutants in one of the most polluted parts of Lima. The billboard combines polluted air with water to actively dissolve the pollutants (such as bacteria, dust and germs), using basic thermodynamic principles in water. The residual is released release fresh air. A single billboard does the work of 1,200 trees, purifying 100,000 cubic meters (3.5 million cubic feet) of air daily.
NASA Air Filter
Indoor air can be far more polluted than outside air. NASA has created a filter-less air purification system called Airocide that removes the worst indoor air pollutants. Airocide eliminates virtually 100% of the harmful gasses emitted by home products called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) out of the air.
Italian chemist Luigi Cassar was recently recognized for his pollutant neutralizing cement coating. Cassar’s invention improves air quality and prevents buildings from discoloring as a result of heavy air pollutants. The cement mixture contains substances known as “photo catalysts” that use sunlight to break down the pollutants into less harmful substances. These are then washed away by rainwater thereby cleaning the concrete and surrounding air.
This year’s eVolo Skyscraper Design Competition featured several pollution fighting concepts, including the Hyper Filter which is a structure located between skyscrapers in big cities. The Hyper Filter absorbs CO2 and other harmful gases releasing clear concentrated oxygen back into the atmosphere.