When confronted with the evidence, it’s difficult to minimize the effects of our polluted environment. According to the WHO, air pollution is now considered to be the world’s single largest environmental health risk, with an estimated 7 million deaths linked to the problem each year. Most of the issues lie in urban areas of the world, where populations are often exposed to pollution levels that are 2.5 times higher than recommended.
Because this has become a global problem, many of our best minds have set out to develop solutions. Here are just five of the most inspiring innovations that are helping us both monitor and reduce air pollution.
1 – Cloud Seeding
Have you ever wished, or prayed, for rain to cleanse the skies? Scientists have found a way to tip the odds of those wishes coming true with something called cloud seeding. Rain manifests through cloud condensation. What happens with this process, is that condensation is artificially generated through planes “seeding” the clouds with silver iodide, or dry ice. China allegedly used this method in Beijing in 2008 to clean up its skies leading up to the 2008 Olympics. Scientists are split on how effective this practice truly is at generating rainfall.
— The Allegheny Front (@AlleghenyFront) September 22, 2016
2 – Giant Sprinklers
In the areas of the world with high levels of air pollution, China seems to be one of the hardest hit. The Asian country has declared war on air pollution in recent years and one of its current proposals is to use giant sprinklers on the top of its skyscrapers. These sprinklers will spray water into the air, which should settle dust and other pollution particles. These systems are still in the design and testing phases.
— Global Reporting Program (@GR_Program) February 14, 2014
3 – Smog-Eating Buildings
Another way to clean pollution, or smog, is with passive chemical reactions. Mexico City also isn’t known for its clean air. Yet, an innovative design at its hospital building called the Torre de Especialidades provides a unique solution. The facade is constructed of special tiles that are coated with titanium oxide. Once the tiles are activated by UV rays, they convert mono-nitrogen oxide (pollution) into some less harmful substances.
— Jen McGahan ❤✎ (@JenMcGahan) May 15, 2016
4 – Pigeon Air Patrol
Probably one of the more entertaining and fascinating solutions, the Pigeon Air Patrol is an actual squad of pigeons that flies over the city of London and its boroughs. The feathered flock’s primary assignment is to conduct air pollution monitoring. 10 racing pigeons outfitted with air sensor backpacks measure levels of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and other pollutants throughout the city. Londoners can follow Twitter accounts to determine readings in their area. This program by Plume Labs is now being expanded to help citizens understand pollution and its health risks.
— Autodesk UK&I (@Autodesk_UKI) June 13, 2016
5 – Smog Free Tower
Picture one of those air purifiers that you place in the corner of your home or office. Now imagine a massive air purifier over 20 feet high that can clean up to 1,000 cubic feet of air per hour. This is exactly what is now sitting in Beijing’s 751 D.Park. This smog free tower is considered the world’s largest air purifier and it runs on just a small amount of green electricity. The smog free tower was created by Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde and is planned for a world tour.
— Notablelife.com (@NotableCA) October 7, 2016
While air pollution remains a serious problem, these are exciting times in the field of air quality monitoring and pollution reduction. These new technologies are revolutionizing the way we view air quality and providing methods to clean up our environment for future generations.