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Here’s the Surprising Reason Why Los Angeles is Turning Its Streets White

Black (or greyish!) tar streets — it’s almost as natural of a mental image as blue skies. But, the city of Los Angeles is out to turn that image on its head this year by painting its streets white, and they’re not just doing it for fun! The white streets are part of a plan to help relieve a growing problem in Los Angeles — it’s too hot!

While the city of Los Angeles has more green spots than you might imagine, the bulk of the sprawl is made up of large buildings and wide (sometimes not wide enough!) roads. If you can reach back to your high school science classes, you’ll remember that darker colors absorb heat from light, while lighter colors reflect it — basically, why wearing black out on a hot day is exceptionally miserable. Well, there are a lot of dark-colored roads in Los Angeles, and Los Angeles being a huge city in the desert, those roads absorb a lot of that sunlight!

With climate change threatening to make summer temperatures in particular tick upwards, things are threatening to get unbearable, with temperatures being even hotter than they should be because of all that absorbed heat, often alarmingly so. So, the city settled on a charmingly simple solution — let’s paint all the streets white!

But, strictly speaking, it’s not paint. The city is using a sealant called CoolSeal, which is light grey in color. In testing, CoolSeal has been found to lower ground temperatures by 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The city is eating a huge bill in the process — $40,000 for each mile, and there are a lot of miles of road in Los Angeles — but there’s still some optimism that the project will pay for itself. The city hopes that dramatically decreased temperatures will lead to a decrease in the amount of air conditioning used and, more importantly, a decrease in the number of heat-related illnesses and deaths that occur during the hotter summer months.

In other words, next time you imagine cruising down palm tree-lined streets along the coast, make sure you make the roads you’re driving on white!

Via CBS Los Angeles

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