Green walls to fight against pollution
A mesh made of common morning glory plants (a climbing plant) would help capture between eight and nine tons of particulate material a year in Medellín.Medellín, 24 de junio de 2015 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
Five people pass away every day in Medellín due to respiratory issues, many of them due to environmental pollution which surpasses international standards.
The proposal came from a group of UNal-Medellín Faculty of Mining students to help offset the pollution of the city, where five people on average die every day due to respiratory diseases.
The idea of the project is to grow on the Avenida Oriental ─one of the main avenues of the city─ common morning glory plant walls, a plant scientifically known as Ipomoea purpurea L. Roth, which can reach a height of up to two meters. Besides having some health benefits as a diuretic or an expectorant, it has been demonstrated that the species captures particulate matter between 10 and 2.5 microns in size, avoiding it to reach the human respiratory system and produce diseases such as cancer.
“We are proposing to place a green mesh along a stretch of the avenue between 52nd and 53rd streets where we anticipate the maximum particulate matter capture will be up to nine tons a year,” said UNal Industrial Engineering senior Ana María Bedoya Palacio and member of the support group of students from different careers that are currently participating in the project.
The proposal is the result of a search for contributions to solve day to day issues, therefore the UNal-Medellin group focused on mobile and industrial pollution sources. “Between 2004 and 2007 we discovered a 45% increase in respiratory diseases in children less than 5 years old and a 25% mortality rate growth. This is how we identified this was the issue we wanted to address,” said Bedoya.
In search for solutions they found green walls, commonly used in cities such as London. Then the Avenida Oriental proposal emerged as 70,000 cars and 2,800 buses use the avenue every day, according to data of the Office of the Mayor of Medellín and the 2012 UNal Origen-Destino (Source-Destination) survey.
Green walls can be of several types: roof tops, meshes or walls. The proposal of the students is to make the wall out of a climbing plant such as the common morning glory, which thanks to its rapid propagation and growth can quickly occupy large surfaces.
“The mesh has an aspersion system, consisting of a water pump which turns on periodically to wash the plants and avoid saturation and stop capturing particulate material,” said Bedoya.
Besides catching pollution, common morning glory plant walls will also absorb CO2, release oxygen, function as a sound barrier and diminish the thermal sensation (heat) in up to 5º C (41º F), which for a place like downtown Medellín would be very valuable.
The project was developed during the Engineering Seminar III Course. The members of the group are mostly seniors from different careers and with the purpose of making contributions from different perspectives and knowledge bases.
Although this initiative is still only an idea, the purpose is for students to present it to the city authorities.(Por: Fin/VHVR/DMH/AC