In an age in which pollution levels are constantly on the rise there is a very real concern about the state of our health. Bad air quality and the effect it has on our health, especially in major cities, is becoming very apparent.
It’s an issue that Kamal Meattle realised the hard way as he highlights in his TED Talk in 2009. “Some 17 years ago, I became allergic to Delhi’s air. My doctors told me that my lung capacity had gone down to 70 percent, and it was killing me.”
There are three houseplants that, if placed correctly around the home, can make a huge difference to the clean air inside.
In his attempts to discover how to reverse this serious health problem Kamal spoke to NASA, The Indian Institute of Technology and The Energy and Resource Institute and made a wonderful discovery. Plants. It sounds obvious — after all, plants produce oxygen and use carbon dioxide. But Kamal and his colleagues discovered that there are three houseplants that, if placed correctly around the home, can make a huge difference to the clean air inside.
You could be in a bottle with a cap on top, and you would not die at all, and you would not need any fresh air.
The first is Areca Palm (Chrysaliddocarpus Lutescens) which, as expected, removes CO2 from the air and converts it to Oxygen. The second plant is Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (Sansvieria Trifasciata) which needs to be kept in the bedroom. The reason for this is because it is most active at converting CO2 to Oxygen at night, which will help with a good night’s sleep. And finally you have the common old Money Plant (Epipremnum Aureum), which, as Kamal points out “removes formaldehydes and other volatile chemicals”.
These three plants would allow you to grow all the fresh air you need to survive. In fact, Kamal’s studies found that with these plants ‘you could be in a bottle with a cap on top, and you would not die at all, and you would not need any fresh air.’ That’s impressive.
There is a catch though. For Areca Palm to do its job efficiently you’ll need four shoulder-high plants per person in your home. That’s a lot of greenery to find space for and look after. In Kamal’s tests he has found a 50,000-square-foot building which houses 300 people. It contains 1,200 plants. The results are undoubtedly impressive with the Indian Government conducting research that shows ‘that this is the healthiest building in New Delhi’. Kamal’s studies also show that the building has the ability to increase a person’s blood oxygen level by one percent as well as a ‘reduced incidence of eye irritation by 52 percent, respiratory systems by 34 percent, headaches by 24 percent, lung impairment by 12 percent and asthma by nine percent.” Productivity also rose in the building.
While having this many plants might seem excessive to many people Kamal points out that in the future it will serve a key purpose. “The world’s energy requirements are expected to grow by 30 percent in the next decade. 40 percent of the world’s energy is taken up by buildings currently, and 60 percent of the world’s population will be living in buildings in cities with a population of over one million in the next 15 years.”
So, next time someone gives you a house plant it might be worth asking yourself if it could seriously help in improving your home life.