car exhaust photo by frankieleon

Looks like an effective solution to air pollution might be right under our feet.

Dutch scientists have completed a full scale year-long test of smog-eating concrete that shows certain kinds of air pollution being cut by as much as 45 percent.

When a key air pollutant, nitrogen oxides (NOx), are emitted from cars’ exhaust pipes and mixed with titanium oxide, a chemical reaction occurs when hit with sunlight, that turns the toxic gas into a harmless powder.potato-heart-shaped-CC-Nisha_A

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Scientists at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands sprayed concrete paving stones with titanium oxide and paved a city block with the stones. Under ideal weather conditions, the blocks “ate” up to 45% of the air pollution. Even with rain, clouds and snow blocking the sunlight, the daily average for the purifying pavement was a 19% improvement overall.

The scientists published their results in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.

A stretch of road in Chicago made with the same chemical has been dubbed “America’s greenest street” and the University of California has created roofing tiles that work on the same principle.

Let’s hope more testing might lead to long highways prepared with the natural white substance, titanium oxide, which you might have used as a sunscreen or in white paints. In certain quantities and particle sizes the substance can be a health hazard, which is why more testing is needed. The substance also offers great potential for industrial waste water detoxification.

(READ more in the Los Angeles Times) – Photo by frankieleon, CC

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