Air quality, Innovations, Pollution, Sustainability issues | 27 May 2020
Innovations in air quality.
We share a story by Haeckels on innovations in air quality.
Outdoor air pollution is one of the world’s largest health and environmental problems and is responsible for 3.4 million early deaths each year globally. During the Coronavirus pandemic global pollution is reported to be noticeably down with 2020 on track for a 6 to 8% global emissions reduction. However according to Richard Betts, head of climate impacts at the UK Met Office, this is not enough to have a noticeable effect on the rising CO² concentrations. For that we would need at least a 10% decrease in global emissions during 2020.
So, what of indoor air pollution? The British Lung Foundation defines indoor air pollution as the, “dust, dirt or gases in the air inside a building such as your home or workplace that harms us if we breathe it in.“ According to the World Health Organisation, indoor air pollution causes 3.8 million deaths each year worldwide from diseases such as pneumonia, stroke, heart disease, COPD and lung cancer. Air quality at home is largely compromised by toxic air pollutants from gas hobs, fireplaces, heaters, rugs, walls, furniture, clothing and, even our bed sheets can cause indoor air pollution too! One of reasons we love Passivhaus is because of the enormous health benefits, in no small measure due to the exceptional air quality!
All of this points to the fact that we have a major air quality problem globally; one which needs drastic action. We were fascinated by the following story by Haeckels about innovations in air quality.
“Haeckels is one of those brands that stands out from the crowd for their values on sustainability and quality”
For us Haeckels is one of those brands that stands out from the crowd for their values on sustainability and quality, for being exciting and for doing things differently. Founded by Dom Bridges and based on the clifftops in Margate (England), they create natural skincare products and wild fragrances that promote the health-giving properties of the sea. The Haeckels team work to raise awareness about natural products that are every bit as effective as chemically-derived alternatives, and they make and ship them all over the world. If you’re ever in Margate you can visit Haeckels House and enjoy a treatment or have a go in their famous bathing machine. Do check them out online and get inspired by their brilliant projects like the Christmas Tree recycling project that led to a new fragrance…
Air quality innovation.
It is estimated that 95 percent of the global population is breathing harmful air. Air pollution is said to be linked to around 6.5 million deaths, with 1 in 9 deaths worldwide being due to pollution-related diseases (that is all types of pollution). Research has shown that air pollution can also cause a decline in human intelligence and can increase the chance of getting Alzheimer’s. It has also been linked to an increased risk of global diabetes. According to the World Health Organisation climate change could potentially increase the number of deaths from air pollution by hundreds of thousands between 2030 and 2050.
“Climate change can impact nearly every aspect of nature, from bleached coral reefs to huge forest fires. ”
Air pollution not only affects us directly but is causing extreme harm to our natural environment. Air pollutants such as methane and black carbon are powerful climate pollutants that contribute to climate change. Black carbon, a component of particulate matter (PM), is one of the largest contributors to global warming after CO². And climate change can impact nearly every aspect of nature, from bleached coral reefs to huge forest fires.
Many countries have begun implementing solutions to help improve the health of their population by creating online pollution level maps. There have also been some strategies in place to reduce pollution levels, such as in Hamburg where they have implemented a system where ships to turn off the generators while in port and draw power from the mainland. But some designers are trying to tackle it in new and innovative ways.
Dan Roosegaarde has created “The Smog-Free Tower,” which cleans 30,000 cubic metres of air every hour using just 1,170 watts of energy. This can now be seen in Beijing, which is one of the worst polluted cities in the world. The machine compresses the smog particles into a solid material which is then used to make products such as cufflinks and rings. In 2017, Roosegaarde also worked with a Chinese company on a bicycle that collected smog.
Made of Air is a material composed of 90% atmospheric carbon. Its applications are within construction, interiors, furniture and more. It hopes to significantly reduce the CO² footprint of buildings to help achieve climate targets. The material is made from waste biomass which absorbs CO² from the atmosphere and is derived from plants and animals. The biomass is baked into carbon and mixed with a biodegradable binder to create a mouldable, thermoplastic material. Made of Air is compostable and at the end of its lifecycle, the non-toxic material can simply be shredded and put back into the earth where it is harmless to nature.
Common carbon-based inks are made by burning fossil fuels, but AIR-INK is made by collecting soot that is already being emitted from vehicles. Kaalink was created to fit onto the exhaust of vehicles / generators to capture the outgoing pollutants. The soot is then processed to remove heavy metals and carcinogens. It takes just 45 minutes of vehicular emissions captured by Kaalink to produce 1 fluid ounce of ink, which fills one pen.
We have outlined a number of things you can do to improve your air pollution levels, and also to help protect yourself from harmful air:
- Don’t smoke indoors, but quitting altogether is best!
- Keep lots of plants indoors, particularly those known for cleaning the air — read our plants story here
- Monitor pollutants and fit an air filter in your home
- Avoid using harsh chemicals when cleaning
- Walk or use public transport
- Use an extractor fan to remove cooking fumes
- Keep a natural floor in your garden such as grass or soil, instead of paving
- Make smart choices when purchasing products, such as ones made from eco-friendly materials
- Eat locally-sourced food
- Wear a mask when travelling through polluted areas
We hope you enjoyed the story that Haeckels kindly allowed us to reprint.
In the coming weeks we’ll be publishing a new factsheet on indoor air quality, so please look out for it.