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Titanium dioxide hogs the spotlight

In their unending quest to improve day-to-day life, researchers have processed a common pigment into a form that could lead to new generations of self-sterilizing bathroom tiles and antifog mirrors.

Each year, the United States produces some 1.5 million tons of titanium dioxide, a powder that's widely used as a sunscreen and a white pigment for paints. In the past few years, chemists have also found that coatings of titanium dioxide can kill bacteria, catalyze the breakdown of dirt and toxic pollutants, and prevent water from building into tiny, fog-forming beads (SN: 3/21/98, p. 186).

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