‘Airbubble’ playground cleans air for kids

Children in Warsaw, Poland, have a new type of playground to enjoy – and it has the added benefit of helping them breathe better.

The playground uses air-purifying algae and is part of the city’s “Let’s Help Children Breathe Better” campaign, by Otrivin Breathe Clean

According to the World Health Organisation, air pollution is one of the biggest health threats globally – and in 2018, 36 out of 50 most polluted cities in Europe in terms of PM2.5 concentration were located in Poland. Experts say if the level of pollution improved to meet the WHO guidelines, the residents of Warsaw would gain 1-2 years in their life expectancy.

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Children contribute the least to air pollution, but they’re more vulnerable to the impact of pollution than adults. 

Created by ecoLogicStudio, AirBubble is the first biotechnological playground integrating air purifying algae, which was designed to allow children to play in purified air. It’s hosted by Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw, and it combines architecture, science and nature into a playground designed for children. 

The installation contains 52 bioreactors, each containing 10 liters of living cultures of chlorella microalgae. These microorganisms actively filter and re-metabolise the pollution particles and carbon dioxide: in ideal conditions they are capable of using carbon and nitrogen molecules as food to build their biomass. Also, they release oxygen, adds Marco Poletto Ph.D., from ecoLogicStudio. 

Based on the lab tests, AirBubble predicts that 97% of nitrogen oxides (NOx) will be adsorbed and re-metabolised and 75% of Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM) will be filtrated to achieve a Healthy Air Quality Index in the playground area.

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AirBubble is designed not only to help clean the air, but also to involve children in the process of air purification. “The playground needs two sources of power: solar energy and children’s movement,” says Claudia Pasquero, co-founder of ecoLogicStudio. “Thanks to their instinctive curiosity to explore and play, children stimulate the work of bioreactors and directly contribute to air purification.”

The aim of the “Let’s Help Children Breathe Better” campaign and the Airbubble playground is to raise awareness of the impact of air pollution on the children’s health throughout the year and to empower everyone to take action to reduce this impact in their closest environment.