Definition of Policies and Standards
The effects of air pollution on health, crops and forests yields, ecosystems, the climate and the built environment also entail considerable market costs. The market costs of air pollution include reduced labour productivity, additional health expenditure, and crop and forest yield losses. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) projects that these costs will increase to reach about 2% of European gross domestic product (GDP) in 2060 , leading to a reduction in capital accumulation and a slowdown in economic growth.
Air pollution damaging impacts and costs are vast, it should be our priority to protect our wellbeing and life on earth. One of the first steps is to develop and implement local, national, European, international policies and standards
Technological development and structural and behavioural changes must be bound together in new holistic solutions. These will be necessary to achieve human wellbeing and social development, to protect the natural capital and to support economic prosperity.
There are several measures which we can take to make air quality better, not only for us but even for coming generations. If not done in proper and timely manner, the worsening air quality can cause severe harm to entire planetary ecosystem.
Indoor air pollution is among the top environmental health risks.
Usually the best way to address residential indoor air pollution is to control or eliminate the source of the pollutants and to ventilate the home with clean outdoor air.
Air Filters are the most common devices to address air quality. Some are installed in the ductwork of a home’s central heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, or HVAC) system to clean the air in the entire house. Portable room air cleaners can be used to clean the air in a single room or in specific areas, but they are not intended to filter the air in the whole house.
They can be divided in two categories:
Devices which can remove particles from the air
Devices which can remove gases, odors and biological pollutants
New materials can change effectively the world and the way we live in it.
Think, as example to conductive inks, which can be used in smart clothing and wearables. Imagine a jacket with an attractive design printed on the sleeve that also functioned, when you touched it, as a way of controlling your iPhone.
The same is happening in the building materials, thanks to some patented technologies that can transform any surface into an air purifier. The core technology is the same used into the high efficiency Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) cleaners. Catalysis is the process where a substance participates in a chemical transformation without being altered or consumed in the end. Its role is to increases the rate of a reaction by reducing the activation energy.
Photocatalysis means that the energy comes from the light, likewise to a solar panel. Chlorophyll of plants is a typical natural photocatalyst.
Now the use of a special semiconductor material, nano TiO2, make possible to use the same principle to purify the air. The difference between chlorophyll photocatalyst to man-made nano TiO2 photocatalyst (here below mentioned as photocatalyst) is, usually chlorophyll captures sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose, but on the contrary photocatalyst creates strong oxidation agent and electronic holes to breakdown some highly toxic pollutants like Nitrogen Oxidants and VOC into harmless salts in the presence of light, oxygen and water.
Space exploration has contributed to many diverse aspects of everyday life, from solar panels to implantable heart monitors, from cancer therapy to light‐ weight materials, and from water‐purification systems to improved computing systems and to a global search‐and‐rescue system.
But Space exploration also leaded to better understand the effect of nature to reduce toxins in the air.
In 1973 during the Skylab III mission, NASA identified 107 volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) that were emitting from synthetic materials inside the spacecraft. As a result, NASA realized that indoor air pollution in any tightly sealed structure could present health-related problems and should be addressed.
One of the NASA experiments testing this solution was the BioHome, an early experiment in what the Agency called “closed ecological life support systems.” The BioHome, a tightly sealed building constructed entirely of synthetic materials, was designed as suitable for one person to live in, with a great deal of the interior occupied by houseplants.
Once the plants were introduced to the environment, analysis of the air quality indicated that most of the VOCs had been removed, and the symptoms disappeared.
The result is a list of plants, which are highly efficient to remove some specific kinds of pollutants from air, which can be successfully used today into most of our living environment, both at home and at work.