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Writing On The Wall for Air Pollution

May 21, 2014
Environmental Protection

Scientists at Sheffield University have developed a roadside billboard that absorbs air pollution. The first structure of its kind has been put up outside the university’s Alfred Denny Building and will stay there for a year.

The display which measures 10 by 20 meters shows a poem called “In Praise of Air” written by Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage. It is coated with titanium dioxide which uses sunlight and oxygen to break down nitrogen dioxide produced by road traffic.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science Professor Tim Ryan believes that as well as producing an eye catching story the technology could be put to serious application in future. “This is a fun collaboration between science and the arts to highlight a very serious issue of poor air quality in our towns and cities,” he said. “This poem alone will eradicate the nitrogen oxide pollution created by about 20 cars every day. If every banner, flag or advertising poster in the country did this, we’d have much better air quality. It would add less than 100 pounds to the cost of a poster and would turn advertisements into catalysts in more ways than one.”

Earlier this year Sheffield was one of nine British towns and cities named for breaching current standards for particulates in the World Health Organisation report on global air quality.