Smog-Eating Material to Wrap Buildings

Titanium dioxide, a nearly ubiquitous but wholly unsung material, benefits the environment by eating air pollutants. It is increasingly used to build green infrastructure in cities.

What's the Latest Development?


Researchers in Belgium are testing an old material in a new way, which may benefit the environment and make city dwellers healthier and happier by eating away at air pollutants. Titanium oxide, currently used in everything from toothpaste to sunscreen, can now be found coating the ceiling of a driving tunnel in Brussels, Belgium. Scientists there are measuring how many toxins are decomposed by the material, including so-called NOx gases (molecules composed of nitrogen and oxygen) and VOCs (volatile organic compounds).  

What's the Big Idea?

Until now, the effects of titanium oxide have been understood only in laboratory settings, but this is about to change. The aluminum company Alcoa has created a titanium dioxide coating for aluminum panels designed to cover buildings like a shell. "The firm claims that 1,000 square meters of the coated panels eat up the equivalent NOx output of four cars." Large real-world projects that make use of the material will allow scientists to determine if it creates any harmful chemicals as a by-product of its pollution-eating ability.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
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  • It was given this name because it came from another solar system.
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Banned books: 10 of the most-challenged books in America

America isn't immune to attempts to remove books from libraries and schools, here are ten frequent targets and why you ought to go check them out.

Nazis burn books on a huge bonfire of 'anti-German' literature in the Opernplatz, Berlin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Culture & Religion
  • Even in America, books are frequently challenged and removed from schools and public libraries.
  • Every year, the American Library Association puts on Banned Books Week to draw attention to this fact.
  • Some of the books they include on their list of most frequently challenged are some of the greatest, most beloved, and entertaining books there are.
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