October 1, 2012
Effortlessly clean up your town’s polluted air with your favorite pair
of jeans – that is what is trying to be done. If this sounds too good to
be true, it’s because it is.
“CatClo,” a liquid laundry additive with titanium dioxide nanoparticles,
is the collaborative work of the University of Sheffield and the London
College of Fashion. All your clothes would need is one cycle with this
additive—because the nanoparticles very stubbornly stick to the
fabrics—to remove pollutants like nitrogen oxide in the air and oxidize
them in the fabric.
The University of Sheffield website firmly says that the pollutants
treated thusly in the presence of daylight do not produce other
pollution hazards and are “harmlessly” removed when the clothes return
to the wash—“if they haven’t already been dissipated harmlessly in
“Harmlessly” may be a stretch, if not a lie. Titanium dioxide dust has
been linked by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as
a possible carcinogen. Because it would be in nanoparticle form
attached to fabric, titanium dioxide may be able to breach the
blood-brain barrier, especially if absorbed through skin via sustained
wear or sweat.