India’s air pollution has been making headlines for the past few years now. It’s no surprise when our capital ranks number 1 in the list of world’s most polluted cities in the World Air Quality Report. Unfortunately, not just Delhi, but 21 out of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are from India! While the reasons may vary from crop burning to fuel emission from vehicles, one thing is clear: the need to purify the air around us.
What if we told you that the task of purifying air could be done from the comfort of your homes? Surprised? Read on to know how you could play an important role in this task.
Way back in 1989, NASA did research on this subject. Recently, similar research was taken up by IIT- Kanpur, where they collected common indoor plants (Bamboo palm, Chinese evergreen, English ivy, ficus, Gerbera daisy, Peace lily, Pot mum and others) and put them in a chamber. Then, they pumped in some harmful gases like Benzene, Trichloroethylene, and Formaldehydes. After 24 hours, when they checked the air quality in the chamber, some plants were able to remove up to 90% of these harmful gases.
Know these pollutants:
Benzene: A highly flammable liquid with a distinguished odor, benzene is volatile, clear, and colorless in nature. High concentrations of benzene are found indoors as a result of burning coal, wood, kerosene, or LPG cylinders. Commonly used as a solvent, benzene is present in household items like cigarettes, inks, oils, paints, plastics, detergents, and rubber.
Formaldehyde: A colorless, strong-smelling gas, formaldehyde is used in products like cigarettes, toothpaste, soft drinks, and shampoos. When combined with urea, the resultant, urea-formaldehyde resins are used in consumer paper products, including grocery bags, waxed papers, facial tissue papers, and paper towels. These resins are also used as stiffeners, wrinkle resisters, water repellants, fire retardants, and adhesive binders in floor-covering, carpet backing, and permanent-press clothes.
Trichloroethylene (TCE): A manmade chemical, TCE is a colorless, volatile liquid used as a solvent. TCE is also found in adhesives, printing inks, spot removers, carpet-cleaning fluids, metal cleaners, dry cleaning agents, paints, and varnishes.
Now, that we know the common air pollutants, let’s talk about three indoor plants that are easy to maintain and can effectively purify the air.
1. Areca Palm aka Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
Also known as Butterfly Palm, the Areca Palm is highly effective in removing toluene and xylene from the air. Research suggests that a 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) Areca Palm will transpire one liter of water in a day, making it a great humidifier. It is advisable to keep four shoulder-high Areca Palm plants as they purify air enough for one adult.
Care Tip: Don’t overwater the plan. Wipe the leaves with a wet cloth if you see any infestation growing on them.
2. Snake Plant aka Sansevieria trifasciata
This beautiful yellow-tipped succulent, also known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue, is usually kept in bedroom spaces as it releases oxygen at night. This also helps people sleep better. The leaves of this plant have a large surface area, which helps in detoxifying the air. Keeping six to eight waist-high Snake Plants will purify the air needed for one adult.
Care Tip: Don’t overwater this plant as the roots are prone to rot in moist soil.
3. Money Plant aka Epipremnum aureum
One of the easiest plants to grow, Money Plant, also known as Devil’s Ivy, cleans the air of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene. This plant can grow with just water! They don’t even need a lot of sunlight. With a high survival rate, this plant is great for decorative purposes as well!
Care Tip: The easiest way to grow a Money Plant is to cut off an existing stalk and plant it in a new pot.
Let’s start the process of detoxifying the air in our homes with these three green heroes. Did you know that 2020 has been declared as the International Year of Plant Health by the UN General Assembly? Do share with us in the comments if you found this article helpful.
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Charu, a feminist and an accidental writer, is yet to master the art of writing about herself. Always curious to learn new stuff, she ends up spending a lot of time unlearning the incorrect lessons. She enjoys all sorts of stories – real, fictional, new, old, hers and would love hearing yours too. Feel free to ping her at email@example.com to share anything that you think is worth sharing.
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