Buildings that eat SMOG

Building material that can reduce surrounding emissions within an 8 foot area?! How cool! There is a chemical called titanium dioxide that has been used in coatings for metal, concrete, and other building materials as a deodorizer, to keep things white, and as a general preserving agent. But, it has been found that titanium dioxide is also useful in reducing polluting agents in smog. It undergoes a chemical reaction that breaks down the molecular structure of smog when it is exposed to sunlight. This process is photocatalysis. 

If you apply a coating that contains titanium dioxide to a structure or surface, smog in the immediate area will be reduced. Some say as much as 60%. Scientists and engineers in Japan and Italy have been testing out the benefits of titanium dioxide, though the properties of this material have been explored since the 1980s. In Milan, coating containing titanium dioxide was used in order to keep a white church white and has been added to pavement on roads surrounding the city.

Titanium dioxide coating can be used on buildings, asphalt, sidewalks, and many other surfaces. Though the area of smog reduction impact is limited, it is nevertheless a critical area because it falls within the living/breathing spaces for humans in urban centers, and can directly help with car emissions on roads.



Dr. Jennifer Veilleux is a geographer, writer, and artist. For more than a decade, she has worked on scientific research and security issues facing water resources shared across political boundaries. Research and curiosity has taken her to more than 50 countries on 5 continents, often to remote locations and marginalized communities. Veilleux takes portraits of people she encounters in her field work and recently released a collection, Portraits from Rivers of Change, that can be viewed here: www.jenniferveilleux.com. These portraits highlight two separate communities, one on the Mekong River the other on the Blue Nile River, facing relocation due to dam development. Dr. Veilleux works for Florida International University as a post doctoral associate for the Institute of Water and Environment and manages SELVA, the Serengeti-Lake Victoria Sustainable Water Initiative, a research project on water security of the Mara River in the Upper Nile basin of Tanzania. She maintains a blog, The Way of Water, dedicated to news and commentary about development on the Nile and Mekong, general water resources issues, and special topics related to women in science. She lives in Miami with her cat Mr. FC Sweet Tea.