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Painting the town eco-friendly |

Modern Living

Painting the town eco-friendly

- Julie Cabatit-Alegre -

It sounds almost too good to be true — a de-polluting paint? That is what Boysen KNOxOut is, says Johnson Ongking, vice president of Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc. “People used to think that paint fouled up the air. Up to this point in time, the focus of eco-friendly paints has been to minimize paint’s negative effect on human health and the environment by limiting the levels of volatile organic compounds and prohibiting the use of hazardous chemicals,” Ongking explains. “But now, with the introduction of Boysen KNOxOUT, we actually have an eco-active technology that’s constantly working to clean the air. In effect, it transforms any painted surface into an air purifying device.”

How does it work? Ongking explains, “Activated by Cristal Nanotechnology, Boysen KNOxOUT paint coating uses nano-sized titanium dioxide to ‘capture’ and ‘neutralize’ airborne pollutants. Stimulated by light, it acts as a photo-catalyst, triggering certain chemical reactions, whereby toxic emissions are broken down into harmless substances in an environmentally safe process.”

We often equate air pollution with carbon dioxides, but did you know that there is another compound that’s even more fatal? Nitrogen oxides (NOx) is the generic term for a group of reactive gasses containing nitrogen and oxygen in varying amounts. “It is among the most abundant elements in the atmosphere,” says Dr. James Bernard Simpas, an authority on environmental issues from the Manila Observatory. “Its primary source is motor vehicle emissions. Of six principal air pollutants tracked by the US EPA, NOx is the only one that shows no sign of reduction. The environmental impact of NOx gasses includes the production of toxic chemicals, acid rain, global warming, and ground level ozone or smog. One of the components of NOx, nitrous oxide, is considered over 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its global warming impact.

 A 2005 WHO report ranked Manila as the fourth most polluted city in the world, next only to Mexico, Shanghai, and New Delhi. A World Bank study in 2007 reveals that every year, there are 5,000 premature deaths in Metro Manila due to exposure to poor air quality. Sixty-five percent of drugs purchased by the Department of Health are for the treatment of respiratory diseases. It is among the top leading causes of death globally.

From trials in Europe, Cristal Nanotechnoloby, which is present in Boysen KNOxOut, has been proven to significantly reduce NOx and related air pollutants. Specific trials in London have demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing NOx levels in a school yard. Trials in Paris confirmed the effectiveness of the technology under different exposure conditions. Now, Pacific Paints (Boysen) Philippines has taken the initiative to launch Boysen KNOxOut in the biggest outdoor de-polluting paint trial in the world, the first in Asia.

“Before, the paint had been tested only in smaller European trials, in school yards, tunnels, or parking lots,” notes Steve Forrest, senior technical advisor for Cristal Global, one of the worldí’ leading titanium manufacturers, which is based in Australia. “The Philippine trial is the first time that we’re testing the product on such a large scale.”

The testing site will be at the three-story Guadalupe MRT station and surrounding embankments. The site presents the ideal conditions for the test — a lot of human traffic and heavy vehicular traffic; it has a large surface area for painting; and it is exposed to sunlight and humidity. “We’re very thankful and appreciative of the extensive support given by the DOTC-MRT3 and the MMDA for this trial,” Ongking says. “It shows that they, too, are innovative and committed players in improving air quality.”

The Manila Observatory, the oldest scientific research institute in the country, is serving as an independent observer and monitor for the trial.

We have seen the evolution of paint, as a source of air emissions, to reduced emissions, and now, cleaner emissions from the air. “We are turning the concept of paint around,” Ongking remarks. “We have a choice. We can do nothing or we can be part of the air pollution solution. Green is our corporate color. We are committed to being green.”

He concludes, “Success in this endeavor will mark functional coatings as a viable and innovative way to fight air pollution. It transforms an ordinary painted surface into an air purifying device. At the end of the day, what we really want to do is to give consumers more than just a can of paint. We’re giving them a weapon to fight against air pollution and protect their family.”

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