Air Clean Up

  • Can Moss Reduce Air Pollution Levels?

Can Moss Reduce Air Pollution Levels?

Aug 22 2019 Read 1751 Times

Air pollution is a major problem that afflicts people all over the world. In fact, over 90% of the world’s population are exposed to unsafe levels of air quality, causing and exacerbating respiratory and cardiovascular complications and directly leading to nine million premature deaths across the globe. Clearly, tackling this urgent issue should be a top priority.

While millions of pounds of research have gone into investigating sophisticated new forms of technology that can monitor, mitigate and remove pollution from the air, Mother Nature might still be the best candidate for the job. The natural properties of moss and lichen make them excellent agents for purifying air and adding a touch of calming greenery to urban cityscapes across the world.

Natural remedy

The first step to overcoming a problem is understanding it in its entirety. Thankfully, recent developments in major new low-cost air quality monitoring technology make quantifying the concentration of pollutants in our airways cheaper, easier and more precise than ever. The next phase involves addressing that rampant contamination.

Since plants rely on carbon dioxide and other particles that are toxic to humans to survive, a symbiotic relationship between flora and fauna has been acknowledged for centuries. In particular, the pollution-removing qualities of moss, alongside its hardy ability to withstand all kinds of temporal conditions and low maintenance demands, make it an ideal choice for tackling air quality issues.

Introducing the CityTree

Cognisant of the ubiquitous problem of air pollution, and of the natural abilities of moss to mitigate it, entrepreneurs Peter Sänger and Liang Wu launched their own novel approach five years ago. The CityTree is a vertical air purifier which marries the pollution-sapping qualities of moss with remote technology and smart-enabled sensors to direct air flow, monitor pollution levels and reduce the amount of contaminants in the air.

By literally eating nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter out of the atmosphere, CityTrees can help to boost the air that urban dwellers breathe and offset many tonnes of carbon-equivalent emissions each year. With inbuilt irrigation and ventilation systems, the units require minimal maintenance (just a handful of hours every year) but can provide a long-lasting solution to air pollution.

A greener city

CityTrees have already been deployed in 50 locations across several countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Macedonia, Norway and the UK. The company behind them – Green City Solutions – recently received EU funding to deploy them in 15 more hotspots all over Berlin in 2020. Those behind the idea hope that their technology can become an integral part of building construction everywhere in the world within the foreseeable future.

“We hope to find the right clients and partners soon to scale up our solution so it becomes a natural component of any given building or infrastructure. Our moss filter can be adapted to any environment,” says Sänger. “But it will take more efforts from governments, cities corporations and each one of us to change the situation. Our solution can only be one small piece of the puzzle.”

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