CA University Mural Using ‘Smog-Eating’ Paint


Today (Oct. 3), a local artist and community at the University of California, Riverside, will come together to create a 40-foot mural using “smog-eating” paint.

Students, staff, faculty and residents are encouraged to participate in the project as part of California’s Clean Air Day. The scene will reportedly depict a colorful scene promoting the outdoors and sustainable ways to move around the campus.

UCR says that two metal containers, owned by the university’s biking club, will be painted using Photio in the community garden. Photio is a paint additive that helps transform surfaces into air purifying agents.

According to Chilean-based company Photio, about 10 square feet or one squared meter coated in Photio has the same decontaminating potential as two mature trees. Photio synthetically stimulates photosynthesis through nanotechnology.

The company has also worked with UCR’s Office of Research and Economic Development and its Office of Technology Partnerships.

“Being able to improve the air that more than 26,000 students who regularly pass through the UCR campus—the same university in which our technology was validated in 2022—is a tremendous milestone,” said Matías Moya Alarcón, Photio Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer.

“This is especially important when you take into consideration the high levels of contamination that we observe in California.”

Improving air quality is a team effort and the partnerships toward achieving this goal are greatly appreciated, said City of Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson. 

“What better way than to incorporate the arts and provide our community with a beautiful site while we help the environment?” Lock Dawson said. “The community can help bring to life a custom work from local artist Ekaterina Orlovie, turning air pollution into something beautiful, safe, and sustainable.”

Materials for the mural have been provided by Metrolink, the City of Riverside and R’Cycle. Interested participants can sign up for one hour time slots here.

Other Eco-Friendly Murals

In October last year, a satellite location of Textile Brewing Company (Dyersville, Iowa) received a unique mural on one of its exterior patio walls.

Made from moss and described by the Cascade Pioneer as a “clean-air machine,” the new artwork lives and breathes at the taproom’s Cascade, Iowa, location. According to the brewery’s website, the mural installation follows a renovation of the structure itself.

The idea for the mural was developed and carried out by Ashley Althoff, Marketing Director for Textile Brewery and Owner of Ashley Althoff LLC. While Althoff describes herself as a “social artist,” she has been known for her involvement in local business marketing, as well as health-guiding and sharing environmentalism practices.

Once Althoff was able to find a moss paint that worked, she asked for permission to install a mural design representative of a beer hop plant. The mural was installed first by hand-drawing the design on the exterior wall with chalk.

After the outline was completed, Althoff filled the design in with a special mixture that would both nurture the moss and help it to stick to the surface.

The artist went on to note that throughout the creation process she had to mist the moss daily in order to keep it damp. However, once the plant is self-sustaining, it could go dormant in the winter and return for the spring and summer seasons.

Two weeks after the first application of the moss paint, Althoff shared that she applied a second coat of the mixture and was intending to apply a third before the end of August to finish the piece, although the summer heat was proving to make the project a little more difficult than anticipated.

In closing, the artist shared that the moss poses no risk of damaging the exterior brickwork.

Then, in March, a newly renovated building in Southampton, England, was set to receive what is anticipated to be the United Kingdom’s largest “clean air mural.” 

According to the announcement from FI Real Estate Management, the mural will span across 1,005 square feet on the outside of the structure. Additionally, work was designed by street artist Neron, who “by mixing floral art in an abstract style, brings the spotlight onto the colors and blooming appeal of the subject.”

It is estimated that the paint will absorb around 65 kilograms of CO2 annually, or the equivalent to three mature adult trees. FI reports that Southampton is one of the top four most polluted ports in Europe, largely due to cruise ship emissions.


Tagged categories: Air quality; Coating Materials - Commercial; Color + Design; Color + Design; Green coatings; Murals; Murals; NA; North America; Paint; Program/Project Management; Smog; Sustainability; Upcoming projects

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