Could bacteria help save historic buildings from environmental damage?

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Limestone, the raw material for many iconic monuments and cultural treasures, is facing damage through climate change and air pollution. The soft stone is vulnerable to nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide produced when we burn fossil fuels Limestone provides the raw material for some of the world’s most iconic buildings — from the Egyptian pyramids to Notre Dame and the Parthenon. And while these remarkable structures have stood the test of time, climate change and pollution are today putting them at risk: studies suggest that since the industrial revolution, the rate of decay of limestone buildings has sped up significantly. Yet scientists have found a solution in an unlikely corner. Recent research has shown that bacterial cultures could become key players in the colossal effort to protect the world’s historic limestone buildings from environmental degradation. Saving historic buildings The soft stone, consisting mainly of calcium carbonate, is vulnerable to acidic forms of air pollution in urban environments, such as the nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide produced when we burn fossil fuels. Mixed with rainwater, these gases can cause black crusts to form on the stone which over time leads to serious deterioration. Damaged limestone becomes dark and porous Climate […]

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