Roof Shingles That Eat Smog?

For the past several weeks, the air quality in California has made headlines. Raging wildfires in the northern and southern parts of the state created clouds of ash and dangerously high toxicity levels in the atmosphere. The fires created a state of emergency, but in many parts of the country, that poor air quality is a daily issue, not one created by natural disasters. Over the summer, southern California violated federal smog standards for 87 days in a row. Around 41% of people in the U.S. live with regular exposure to poor air quality. Could new technology roof shingles help?

Cleaning up the air will require reducing dependency on fossil fuels and the pollution they create. While industries like manufacturing and transportation work on these wide-scale changes, 3M has developed something of a stopgap: roof shingles granules that suck smog from the atmosphere.


Roof Shingles

Granules have been a part of our business since the 1930s,” says Gayle Schueller, 3M’s chief sustainability officer. “This is not a new business to be in, and it’s not a new material for us.” Traditionally, granules are used in roof shingles construction to coat rooftops and provide an extra layer of protection from UV rays, which helps buildings remain cool and less dependent on air conditioning. They also make roofs more fire resistant. Around 10 years ago, 3M developed “cool roof shingles” granules that reflect sunlight and help buildings comply with roofing standards like the 2014 Los Angeles ordinance mandating new residential projects be built with additional rooftop insulation to keep them cool.

3M Roof Shingles Granules

Instead of reflecting the sun, though, 3M’s new smog-reducing granules use it. The photocatalytic coating on these granules, designed for asphalt roof shingles, is activated by the sun’s UV rays. That generates radicals that bind with the chemical compounds in smoggy air, and transform them into water-soluble ions that eventually wash away.

While 3M conducted its own internal testing of the granules, they also sent samples for external validation to Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, which evaluated how effectively the granules absorbed different gases and pollutants. They found that a average-sized roof coated in granules removes around as much pollution from the air as three trees could.

“When we innovate, we start with an understanding of where there is a problem, and we identified the issue of smog in cities,” Schueller says. Around 10% of 3M’s 90,000 person staff are scientists, she adds, and they collaborated on both developing the photocatalytic coating, and testing its environmental impacts.

The runoff from the ions, they found, does not contribute significantly to water quality issues–the impact is minimal, Schueller says, and the smog would’ve infiltrated the water from the air anyway if it hadn’t first been absorbed by the roof shingles granules.

- Heritage Construction Co.

Roof Contractor - Heritage Construction Co.

Roof Contractor: Hiring The Right One

Roof Contractor Search

Unfortunately, roofers have a history of having shady reputations. Hiring an honest roof contractor takes some homework on your part. Before you settle for an inferior shingle job, take a look at the top things you need to consider before shelling out your hard-earned cash.

There are plenty of sheisty roofers out there and it’s easy to take the bait if they promise the earliest availability or present a more attractive estimate. The roof is one of the most important aspects of your home. Beware the dangers of hiring a novice by following this sage advice.

What to Look for When Hiring a Roofing Company

Seek Referrals

Finding a roof contractor can be as simple as asking family, friends, work colleagues, or neighbors for a recommendation. If that fails, you can always reach out to reputable real estate agents in your area and ask who they refer clients to.


An impressive portfolio of work speaks for itself. View the roofer’s website or social pages for pictures of completed projects. You can also ask for the addresses of prior jobs and take a drive around town to analyze their work.

Read Reviews

Reviews matter. The construction industry isn’t exactly difficult to break into. With some basic tools and a ladder, nearly anyone can “call” themselves a professional roofer. Review sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp will provide a glimpse into the dealings others have had with the roofing company, both positive and negative. While you can’t base your judgment solely on the opinion of another, consistent complaints or repeat mistakes will more than likely, be repeated. Consider all sources.

Verify License and ID

To ensure your roofer is legit ask for copies of their business license, tax ID, and verify their liability insurance coverage.

Avoid Scams

While there are plenty of roofers that find business from door-to-door sales, beware the roofers that “storm chase” and travel state to state operating fly by night operations. Typically, roofing scammers will perform shoddy work and be long gone before you have a chance to discover it. It’s always best to work with a locally established roofing company with a physical business address.

Check Experience

While most general contractors have the skill to nail down some shingles, experience is still the best teacher. Look for a roofing company that has run a solid business for at least five years to ensure you’re not dealing with a novice. You don’t want a general laborer hopping around on your rooftop with zero knowledge on how to address the basics of a roofing system.

Confirm Consistency

Your roofer should be consistent from the beginning to the end of your project. This means showing up on time each day, removing debris and trash after the workday, and keeping you informed on the project status. Firm up all these small details prior to signing any contracts to ensure the scope of work and communication stay consistent from beginning to end.

Heritage Construction is Committed to Your Roof for Life

If you’re ready to take the first step in hiring an honest and reputable roofer, you’ve come to the right place. With over 30 years of combined industry experience, Heritage knows roofs, and we know them well.

Established throughout the great state of Texas, we are thoughtful leaders in storm-related roof damage and home restoration. Contact Heritage today for a free roof inspection. We’re proud of our work and we’re committed for life. (We don’t fly by night!)