Painting An Air Pollution Solution
Serious health problems caused by air pollution plague urban areas around the world. According to the World Health Organization, 3 million people die from the effects of air pollution each year. This figure is three times the 1 million deaths associated with automobile accidents. In the United States alone, approximately 4 percent of deaths can be attributed to air pollution, this equals the number ofing deaths from caused by breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.1 A study by the European Commission calculated that air pollution reduces life expectancy by an average of almost nine months across the European Union2.
Among the principal air pollutants are nitrogen oxides (NOx), a group of highly reactive gases containing various amounts of nitrogen and oxygen. NOx has severe environmental and health effects. For example, it can cause major pulmonary problems on its own yet when combined with other compounds it can form ground level ozone, smog and particulate matter. NOx is also a precursor for acid rain, and contributes to global warming.
NOx comes primarily from vehicle exhausts. Although catalytic converters can now take out some pollutants from vehicle exhausts, NOx cannot be completely eliminated by such technology. In order to reduce NOX levels, an external mechanism to break down NOx after its release into the atmosphere.
New developments in nanotechnology have produced the most unlikely weapon to reduce NOx and air pollutant levels – paint. Working with Cristal Global, the world’s leading ultrafine titanium dioxide (TiO2) producer, Boysen has developed KNOxOUT. A revolutionary paint that converts noxious air pollutants into harmless substances in an environmentally safe process called photocatalysis.
The technology used in KNOxOUT has been proven effective in a series of European trials conducted by Photocatalytic Innovative Coatings Applications for De-Pollution Assessment (PICADA), an EU funded consortium of which Cristal Global’s subsidiary Millenium Chemicals was the provider of ultrafine TiO2, as well as by Cristal Global itself. In another trial, a 300 sq. meter wall in Sir John Cass School in London was coated with photocatalytic paint, which was estimated to be cleaning the exhausts of about 2,000 cars that passed by the school everyday. A trial conducted in a Paris car park, showed that the technology could also reduce NOx under florescent lighting.
Boysen Paints is currently conducting the world’s largest depolluting paint trial at an urban rail transit station along the busiest avenue in the Manila Metropolitan Area . The trial involves painting over 5,200 sq. meters with close to 1,000 liters of KNOxOUT. This trial will further confirm the depolluting results of the European trials. Given the high amount of sunlight, humidity and air pollution in the vicinity of the trial, this area is ideal for photocatalysis (see box).
KNOxOUT not only meets the VOC limits set by international paint ecolabeling standards, but by effectively transforming painted areas into air purifying mechanisms constantly fighting pollution to improve air quality, Boysen KNOxOUT establishes a new paradigm for green paints – an ecoactive paint. A study in Europe has found that even small cuts in pollution can benefit health. A recent Harvard University study found people living in cities, with decreased air pollution in recent decades, saw life expectancy increase an average of five months due to clearner air. By providing a weapon to fight air pollution, Boysen KNOxOUT provides an innovative and inexpensive way to achieve cleaner air and better health for everyone.