PH leads first street art project vs air pollution
PBSP’S SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS FAIR
It is common for many commuters in Metro Manila to wipe a layer of soot from their faces after their daily commute to and from their schools or offices. Skin irritation and acne breakouts are just some of the annoying inconveniences roadside pollution can cause, but just imagine what could happen if many of us are consistently exposed to these noxious pollutants and inhale them straight into our lungs?
The World Bank reported that 5,000 premature deaths in NCR can be attributed to the poor quality of air in the region. Indeed, the world-renowned Manila traffic poses a more serious threat than just testing everyone’s patience.
One of the most harmful air pollutants is Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) produced by the combustion of fossil fuels such as in automobile engines. Though the body can tolerate a minimal amount of NOx, the sheer number of vehicles passing through our major thoroughfares like EDSA often makes NOx readings exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 40 micrograms per cubic meter. In EDSA, for instance, NOx levels can reach up to 300 on certain days, according to Johnson Ongking, Vice President of Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc.
During the recently held “SOLB!: A Sustainable Solutions Fair” organized by Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Ongking raised the alarming issue of air pollution and presented one of its solutions – an innovative product that can make almost every surface into an air purifier.
“The best way to address pollution obviously is to not produce pollution in the first place. If we can commit to pollution-free transport: walk or bike or take the MRT, that’s the best solution. But unfortunately this is what Metro Manila looks like on most days – hazy. Most of us have to travel through motor vehicles going to work so most of us are part of the problem,” he said.
Boysen worked with Cristal, a leading company in ultrafine titanium dioxide technology. This photocatalytic technology – utilized primarily to reduce pollutants produced by coal power plants – uses the sunlight to breakdown NOx into harmless substances.
He said, “What we thought about is, ‘What if we put air purifiers along our major roads?’ We said, ‘How about we use that base technology and put that in a paint so that we could take out the NOx that still goes out in the air?’ This is how Boysen KNOxOUT came to be.”
Through this paint, the Guadalupe MRT station in Makati was transformed into a gigantic air purifier, the world’s largest paint trial at that time. But it did not stop there. Unknown to many, the mural paintings adorning many 1,000-square-meter walls along EDSA are in fact air purifiers which not only help reduce the risk of people getting sick but also provide commuters and pedestrians a visual treat.
“Project EDSA, in short for ‘Everyone Deserves Safe Air’ is the first street art project in the world with air cleaning component,” Ongking said.
Just like how the world was inspired by the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, many countries soon imitated the eco-revolution initiated by the Filipino company in their most polluted places.
“Many cities in the world have also followed our example here in the Philippines, like the mural paintings in Lima, Peru that was done during the UN Climate talks in the city in 2014. Sakai City in Japan also has its own version of this air cleaning street art revolution in their streetcar stops. The façade of a building in Mexico City coated with this paint even drew a tweet from Leonardo diCaprio before he won the Oscars,” Ongking shared.
According to him, everyone can do his part in this advocacy. He said people using KNOxOUT to paint several square meters of surface can reduce and even potentially eliminate his NOx footprint. /PR
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