Feb. 21 - Manila's street artists have joined the war on smog, using a pollution-eating paint for colorful murals adorning walls along the city's busiest highway. Chemicals in the paint interact with sunlight to convert harmful pollutants into harmless molecules, reducing smog and helping residents breathe easier. Tara Cleary reports.
When it comes to suffering for art, there are few who could match the dedicated band of mural painters persevering alongside Manila's notoriously dirty main highway. There's more to the project than beautification. Manila is one of the five most polluted cities in the world and the artists are using a special smog-eating paint in an effort to clean the city up. Patrick Negrete an engineer at paint manufacturer Boysen, says the new product contains modified titanium dioxide molecules which neutralise air pollutants. SOUNDBITE: PATRICK NEGRETE, BOYSEN PROJECT MANAGEMENT ENGINEER, SAYING (English): "It acts as a photocatalyst and in the presence of sunlight or artificial lighting it brings down noxious gases such as nitrogen dioxide and other VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in the air." Finnish artist and filmmaker Tapio Snellman is in Manila designing one of the artworks. He says the murals are not only helping to clean the air, but also send a visual message. SOUNDBITE: TAPIO SNELLMAN, FINNISH ARTIST, SAYING (English): "I hope there would be many more paintings like these, not just in Manila, but around the world, because there's a huge need of air cleaning paintings, and there's a huge need of visual stimulation of positive and inspiring artwork." But while the new paint reduces pollution, it's not the ultimate solution, says Boysen's Vice President, Johnson Ongking. SOUNDBITE: JOHNSON ONGKING, BOYSEN VICE PRESIDENT, SAYING (English): "The best solution is to reduce the level of pollution to start with; to reduce pollutants coming out of cars. That means, if we can use cleaner cars, use cleaner fuels, take away the smoke belchers, all of these steps, taken together, will be part of the solution." But for the company and the artists, the 10-foot murals along a 24-kilometre highway are certainly a positive, and eye-catching, start. Tara Cleary, Reuters.