Pollution-Eating Concrete?

What if the air we breathe could be purified by pollution-eating concrete? According to a real-world study conducted by researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, it can. The researchers tested this concrete on 1,000 square meters of roads and discovered a 25 to 40 percent decrease in oxides of nitrogen over the roads.

The concrete contains titanium dioxide, which acts as an air purifier by removing nitrogen oxides from the air and, with the aid of sunlight, converting them into “harmless nitrates” (according to an article in Treehugger.) The nitrates are then “rinsed away” by the rain. The concrete also breaks down algae and dirt, so it always stays clean.

This bandaid solution seems like a good (albeit, temporary) way to clean up the outdoor air polluted by toxic vehicle emissions; however, a solution for one problem seems to be the cause of another, in this case. Nitrates in water are not entirely harmless. Too much nitrate can be dangerous, especially for babies and pregnant women or nursing mothers. Nitrates are one of the contaminants filtered out by advanced water filters. If the nitrates are collected and “rinsed away” by the rain, there’s a good chance they could end up in our drinking water, in larger doses than are deemed safe.

So, is there a way to get clean air without risking water contamination in the process?

Water Charity of the Week: An-Tiki and WaterAid

antiki raft made of water pipesOn Sunday January 30, a crew of seniors, aged 56 to 84, set sail on the An-Tiki, a raft constructed of water pipes. The purpose of their 70-day, 2,800-mile voyage: To raise 50,000 pounds for WaterAid, an international, nonprofit organization that partners with local organizations in 26 countries in Asia, Africa and parts of the Pacific Region to implement safe water, sanitation and hygiene education in rural and urban areas. WaterAid helps establish clean water systems, while also enabling families to maintain them, ensuring long-term, sustainable success for all parties involved.

While sailing on saltwater, the An-Tiki crew hopes to raise awareness of the fact that it is fresh water that keeps us alive, but it’s also fresh water that many people in the world lack access to. While on board, the crew will have plenty of water, but will also collect rainwater and convert saltwater into fresh, to remind themselves of its importance to our livelihood. While raising money for clean water, these men also hope to demonstrate that adventure is just as suitable for seniors as it is for youngsters. It is impressive to note that the oldest gentleman in the crew, An-Tiki Captain Anthony Smith, has been a traveling adventurer for nearly all of the 84 years he’s been alive.

The An-Tiki is a testament to the importance of clean water, just as the Plastiki has been a testament to the importance of plastic waste reduction – and we thought this unique effort deserved this week’s spot in our featured water charities, in honor of #charitytuesday on Twitter. To support Antiki in it’s fundraising efforts for WaterAid, make a donation online through the An-Tiki Just Giving page. To track the voyage live online, visit theĀ An-Tiki Yellowbrick Satellite Adventure Tracking page.

Product of the week: 3M Filtrete Air Purifiers

3M filtrete ultra clean air purifierThe groundhog said it would be an early spring this year, and many of us have already begun to see the sun through the clouds these last few days. That means it’s time for spring cleaning to commence, and cleaning up your indoor air should definitely be a part of your spring cleaning routine. The pollen is on it’s way, but you can help prevent allergies before they start with a good air purifier.

So we’ve chosen several Filtrete room purifiers as this week’s featured products.

The 3M Filtrete Ultra Clean air purifier comes in two sizes to accommodate large or small rooms, and filters 99.9 percent of particles, including mold spores, dust mite debris, household dust, pet dander, odor carrying particles, virus carrying particles, smoke, smog, and, of course – pollen. This air purifier also features a filter change indicator light, reminding you when it’s time to change the filter. Its sleek contemporary design and quiet operation is likely to compliment any room in your house, without disturbing the peace.

The 3M Filtrete Ultra Quiet (FAP00-RS) air purifier is not only ultra quiet, as the name implies; it’s also 96 percent effective at capturing airborne particles smaller than 0.2 microns. Try the Filtrete FAP01-RS model for even more advanced purification. These air purifiers bear the government-backed Energy Star symbol; they are 44 percent more efficient than standard air cleaners and will reduce your energy bill, along with greenhouse gas emissions.

For a limited time, you can save $10 on any one of these indoor air purifiers with a Filtrete mail-in rebate.

But it doesn’t stop there. Filtrete is also offering a $6 mail in rebate on all of its filters that have an MPR rating of 1000 or higher. (This rating, similar to MERV, determines how efficient the filter will be at capturing small particles.) This includes the Filtrete Micro Allergen (Filtrete Red) Air Filter, the Filtrete Ultimate Allergen (Filtrete Deep Blue) Filter, the Filtrete Ultra Allergen (Filtrete Purple) Filter and the Filtrete Elite Allergen (Filtrete Black) Filter.