Houseplants that improve air quality

Houseplants that improve air quality

Can houseplants improve the air quality of your home? The answer is a resounding yes, according to research done by Kamal Meattle, a scientist and environmentalist in New Delhi, India, who has been advocating green architecture for a long time.

Having indoor plants can help reduce carbon dioxide and other toxic gases in the air, while increasing oxygen levels within the premises of any building. Kamal has taken it a step further by installing large plant banks within a business park (Paharpur Business Centre and Software Technology Incubator Park). This is a 20 year old, 50,000 ft2 building, with over 1,200 plants for 300 building occupants.

money plant
Money Plant or Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

I found it interesting that the building is rated the healthiest building in New Delhi by the government of India. Their studies also find that there is a 42% probability of increasing blood oxygen by 1% if you remain inside the building for 10 hours. And Kamal says the productivity of the employees increased by some 20%! Overall, a lot of health problems (often caused by sick building syndrome) of the employees showed some kind of measurable reduction.

areca palm species
Areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

Among the health problem incidents which reportedly showed a reduction:

  • incidence of eye irritation reduced by 52%
  • lower respiratory symptoms reduced by 34%
  • headaches reduced by 24%
  • upper respiratory symptoms reduced by 20%
  • lung impairment reduced by 10-12%
  • asthma reduced by 9%

Research by NASA has also confirmed that humble houseplants are so effective at improving air quality that they plan to include some plants aboard space stations in future plans. Although there is no hard and fast rule on the types of indoor plants you can use, Kamal advocates 3 common types of plants (subtropical and tropical):

  • Areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
  • Mother-in-law’s Tongue or Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
  • Money Plant or Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

All these plants can be grown hydroponically, which is a moot point. No, you don’t need to clean them everyday. However, I do think managing to grow several plants per person indoors requires some logistical planning beforehand. If you can provide adequate lighting for the plants, there is no reason why they can’t grow. It helps that in the case of the Mothers-in-law Tongue and the Money Plant, they do not require all that much light to grow.

snake plant
Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

To me these findings are really no surprise at all, as many studies note the better physical, mental, and spiritual condition of people who live near green surroundings or forests, even when you take socioeconomic factors into consideration. Having plants around you really is a healthier way to live – and basically speaking, our “roots” are still green after all. Here is a short list of easy care indoor plants that are regarded as easy to grow.

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