See The Billboard That Eats Pollution

The ginormous ads are an eyesore—but ones that make breathing easier? Yes, please.
May 5, 2014·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Let’s face it: There’s no escape from billboards. On our daily commutes we’re bombarded with the eyesore of advertisements encouraging us to buy goods and services. Sure, some of the ginormous posters are socially responsible—and then there’s American Apparel’s sexist imagery that makes us wish every one of the ads would disappear from the face of the earth. But if billboards start sucking smog from the air, maybe we can cut them some slack.

Indeed, a massive, smog-sucking poster has been created by Lima, Peru–based engineering college UTEC. This isn’t the school’s first time at the environmentally responsible billboard rodeo. Last year, to address Lima’s rainfall shortage, the school came up with a billboard that creates water by sucking it from the city’s super-humid air.

Along with promoting the campus, this latest advertisement addresses another problem that the university created: air pollution due to construction of campus buildings. As the video above shows, the billboard uses Lima’s humidity to trap particulate matter in the air. The school claims that just one of the billboards is the purifying equivalent of 1,200 trees.

Sure, reducing our CO2 emissions absolutely needs to be the priority. But given that Beijing was so smoggy last winter that the only way to see the sky was through a fake sun billboard, we need all the pollution-cutting help we can get.