Researchers have found that titanium dioxide, a non-toxic chemical usually found in sunscreens, paints, inks and some foods, could help in cooling the Earth by scattering the sunlight. After finding this, researchers are optimistic about the new geoengineering project that spraying the chemical into the stratosphere could help in protection against the global warming.
[hana-code-insert name=’StumbleUpon’ /][hana-code-insert name=’Reddit’ /]In this project, the researchers will send high-altitude balloons to spread millions of tons of titanium dioxide in the upper atmosphere. Once the chemical will spread in the atmosphere, it would disperse around the planet and cause the reflection of some of the sun’s rays back into the space.
Peter Davidson, project leader and chemical engineer, said that nearly three million tons of titanium dioxide, forming a millionth of a millimeter thick layer in the atmosphere, could help in reduction of warming effects caused by a doubling of today’s atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
The researchers got inspiration from the 1991 volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo, which caused 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide to be spread into the stratosphere and due to the presence of fine mist of sulfuric acid resulted in reduction of global temperature by about a quarter of a degree of Fahrenheit, i.e. half a degree Celsius, for two years. However, it degrades the ozone layer while titanium dioxide is non-toxic and seven times more effective at scattering light, so it can be used efficiently as said by Davidson.
Health hazards of this chemical is minimal and “many tests on exposure to titanium dioxide dusts have been done,” he said in an email. “No evidence has been found for health hazards that I am aware of, and at these minute concentrations, issues are most unlikely.”
Via: National Geographic