Let’s face it… our air is a mess. Generally, we are not reaching air emission targets for key pollutants that affect our environment as well as our health, including nitrogen oxides (NOx) and organic volatiles. NOx agents are respiratory disease and cancer causing agents in smog and react to form acid rain. In the UK alone, organic volatiles kill 29,000 people a year, and asthma is a growing problem especially among young people living in big cities with high levels of NOx and other pollutants in the air. Although several initiatives have been undertaken to reduce NOx and organic volatile pollutant concentrations in air, emissions standards remain largely unmet. This may be about to change, and at the hand of the everyday citizen. Former fashion designer Helen Storey and polymer chemist Prof. Tony Ryan have suggested a lovely solution: build an air-purifying function into the clothes we wear all day every day. According to Storey, every single surface that is available to us – whether the interior of our minds or the outside of our clothes and our bodies -needs to be getting ‘smarter’. Storey and Prof. Ryan are making trendy jeans ‘smart’ by treating them with tiny particles called nano-titania. Nano-titania, or nanosized particles of titanium dioxide, work as powerful catalyst agents that speed up the conversion of harmful NOx air pollutants to harmless byproducts that can be washed away with the rain. All right there on the surface of the everyday person’s jeans.
Read more of my newest Scientific American Guest Blog post here!
Image: ‘Field of Jeans’ Stereographic, Chelsea College of Art by DED
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