In the midst of a city where air pollutants are lingering, along the Cermak Road and the Blue Island Avenue, stands the two-mile stretch of a street paved with photocatalytic cement that removes nitrogen oxide from surrounding air.
It is the greenest street in America, as publicly announced by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT).
People’s health is at risk everyday as they come out and breathe the air drifting in an urbanized place full of vehicle emissions. One of the gases that are responsible for this risk is nitrogen oxide, which, when inhaled, may irritate the lungs and cause inflammation of airways or bronchioles.
For those with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, nitrogen oxides can worsen these conditions and even cause premature deaths.
Also a well-known greenhouse gas, nitrogen oxides deserve to get eliminated. This is just what the photocatalytic cement does in the presence of sunlight. The titanium dioxide nanoparticles incorporated in the photocatalytic cement and UV rays from the sun both act as catalysts in oxidizing nitrogen oxide to a lesser harmful form, nitrates, which precipitate on the cement’s surface.
Aside from this air-purifying pavement, the Cemark Road-Blue Island stretch also features a system to divert around 80% of average rainfall and relieve sewers. More than 23% of materials used in the project were all made from recycled materials. Moreover, 60% percent of the wastes from the project’s construction were recycled.
“This project demonstrates a full range of sustainable design techniques that improve the urban ecosystem, promote economic development, increase the safety and usability of streets for all users, and build healthy communities. It provides both mitigation and adaptation strategies by reducing its carbon footprint and integrating technologies that allow the infrastructure to address and adapt to climate change,” said Gabe Klein, CDOT Commissioner.