As you all know by now, I love all things good for the environment. So, when I read a recent study from Indiana University that has revealed that self-cleaning paints and other building surfaces are problematic, I was sure I had found my piece for this week.
Titanium dioxide coatings, which have been previously seen as helpful in breaking down airborne pollutants, are now revealed to not be among the many technologies that are recognized by researchers to be helpful in eliminating harmful ozone pollution. Rather, the titanium dioxide most likely accounts for up to 13% of the nitrogen oxides and that it could contribute significantly to the degradation of the ozone layer.
This new research is especially timely, as the EPA has begun making stricter regulations for ground level ozone smog, which of course seriously negatively affects lungs and the heart. Just in case you’re not entirely sure how ozone is produced, here’s a quick summary: ozone is caused by a series of reactions involving nitrogen oxides which come primarily from vehicles and the volatile chemical produced by industrial processes. While putting catalytic converters in cars has successfully reduced ozone in most urban areas, there is still a great need for technologies that meet the tighter air-quality standards of the future.
Now, back to the study itself. Other studies have missed the negative effect on ammonia due to the fact that the reactions occur with high levels of industrial emissions rather than in average humidity levels in urban areas. The lab at Indiana University hopes to better understand how the molecular processes involved when titanium oxide catalyzes the breakdown of ammonia. I know that at least I will be very interested to see how this situation pans out and I will definitely make a point of doing some further research in my spare time.