One of the joys of having returned from my on-line and blogging hiatus is the opportunity to once again participate in on-line projects I love. And this being the final Friday of the month means it’s time for We Are the World Blogest, a day for promoting positive news. It delights me to participate as an agent of pronoia highlighting feel-good news stories for us all to celebrate.
Co-hosting this project this month are: Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Sylvia McGrath , Peter Nena, Belinda WitzenHausen. Do check out their posts, along with everyone else participating, and feel free to join us here.
Today I want to share the story of project that used nanotechnology to absorb air pollution – a joint project of University of Sheffield professors Tony Ryan (scientist) and Simon Armitage (poet). I’m crazy fond of projects that collaboratively cross boundaries – it’s like doubling the magic. I particularly like art environmental projects.
This isn’t actually a new project, but what makes it even more wonderful in my mind is that having fulfilled it’s original purpose of cleaning local air while bringing awareness of the damaging effects of traffic pollution on public health, there was an additional component added to the project.
The original project involved printing Armitage’s poem entitled “In Praise of Air” on a large (building size) poster containing pollution-absorbing nanoparticles of titanium dioxide (Ryan’s science contribution). After hanging the poster on an outside wall of one of the university buildings, over the course of a couple years it absorbed more than two tons of nitrogen oxide traffic pollution. The invitation of such work was to consider what sort of exponential impact it would have if all outdoor advertising contained such technology.
You can read a brief article about it here as well as hear Armitage reading the poem.
The bonus component of the project came after the poster had absorbed all that pollution. It was then sectioned off into pieces, sealed, mounted and signed by the poet, and then those pieces of art were auctioned off with proceeds donated to the British Lung Foundation. A very productive example of recycling wouldn’t you say?
The World Health Organization has reported that ”more than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits. While all regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted. According to the latest urban air quality database, 98% of cities in low- and middle income countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. However, in high-income countries, that percentage decreases to 56%.”
I have to say those statistics are appalling, and should have us all jumping on the proverbial bandwagon working on figuring out solutions. Here’s to celebrating innovative ideas and to the chance to breath clean air.