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This washing powder could help combat air pollution in London

Written by
Alexandra Sims
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It’s tricky for a city like London to clean up its act, but little ideas can lead to big changes. Forget bog-standard detergent, this hi-tech washing powder can help fight air pollution

What’s all this all about, then?

There are more pairs of jeans on the planet than there are people, and this bountiful supply of denim could help solve London’s air pollution crisis

My skinnies? How so? 

It’s thanks to Catalytic Clothing, a project from London College of Fashion professor Dr Helen Storey and Sheffield University scientist Dr Tony Ryan. They’ve developed a laundry detergent that covers clothes in a chemical that breaks down airborne pollutants. 

But why jeans? Are they especially good for this?

The chemical likes to attach itself to the indigo dye in denim. 

And just wearing them will help?

Yep, wearers will clean up smoggy city air as it touches them. In fact, Storey reckons 40 people in catalytic threads will purify two cubic metres of air per minute.

Can I get hold of this magic powder? 

Not just yet. But after four years of trials, Storey says it’s just a ‘question of time’ before our streets are full of people wearing catalytic clothes. 

Illustrations: Dan Woodger

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