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.
This is an incredible story of a creative and illuminating project.
People are endlessly creative and inspiring aren’t they Margaret?! It’s a delight to acknowledge that.
Although am an idealist and wholeheartedly support the desire for acknowledging and encouraging uptake of such technology, am also something of a realist (and therefore perhaps cynic) in that I know it will all come down to economics. The biggest offenders are also in the biggest money and they don’t want to share it… sigh… but idealist me remains in hope! YAM xx
I can’t really argue with you, but I suspect I will always lean into optimism. Until the inequity in the distribution of resources and power is dismantled, I think we have to extraordinarily creative in keeping at the leading edge, stepping outside what is known and more easily controllable. And hence innovating ourselves into evolution.
This is a heartening story to read among all the gloom and doom stories about air pollution.
It’s always such fun to see what inspirations #WATWB brings to us each month – so much goodness across so many categories! Thanks for stopping by Kalpana, and for participating in the good news sharing.
Really interesting and hopeful story. I’m with you, Deborah. Let’s be optimistic and have dreams that just may become reality!
I can think of no better way to be Linda. Let’s dream, and inspire one another, and work together to implement the very best we can. Thanks so much for stopping by and celebrating #@ATWB.
I had no idea something like this existed! We need people willing to try outside the box solutions like these. Every little bit helps. It would be nice if they could do a poster of a green tree and some birds.
Out-of-the-box ideas and leading-edge thoughts are quite exciting aren’t they? Love your idea for a poster – that’d be fun.
I love this! I have faith that although there are doubters there are many more dedicated individuals who “get it”. I think this is a fabulous project that will hopefully take root in many communities around the world. Thanks so much for sharing and for participating in #WATWB.
I have faith too Belinda, and I love the very idea that #WATWB is a forum to showcase positive and creative responses to circumstances we find ourselves living in.
Hi Deborah – I hadn’t heard about this … but I haven’t been back in the UK that long. How very interesting and now I’ll keep an eye open for more info on the project. Brilliant idea – and now to get India and China to adopt the concept … let alone other cities and towns … I’m sure it could be scaled up. Thanks so much for sharing this – cheers Hilary
It would be wonderful to see such technology and commitment used in a far wider spread effort wouldn’t it? And I’d love to see it expanded upon so that other pollutants and toxins were addressed as well. There’s so much to be done, but it’s clear we have creative minds dedicated to innovation.
Yikes Deborah, that’s a seriously graphic image of the poster absorbing all the pollution and it being cut up and sent to the British Lung Foundation – hope the message was received loud and clear. Sadly it is true that pollution affects the low-income cities or areas the worst –
Thank you for this post which hopefully makes us alert and aware of the damage of air pollution and may more ways be found to reduce it – or not to ‘make’ it in the first instance.
It certainly was a very graphic demonstration wasn’t it? And I agree with you Susan, not only do we need to address removal of toxins, but also the very issue of our creating them in the first place. I think that’s part of the reason I get so excited about these cross-discipline collaborations – it feels like a wonderful way to create even more awareness for more folks.