NASA studies indicate that green plants are still better than most any kind of air filter for cleaning impurities from the air

By Dr. S.M. ALAM
July 15 - 21, 2002


The new concept of indoor plants is one of the right plant for the right place. Not only must the conditions be suitable for plant growth, but the plant must be appropriate as a decorative item as to size, shape, colour and texture. Nowadays, our plants are part of the setting, not surplus items to chatter up the window sills on the east side of the house. Plants now grow in dark corners of the rooms, along with stairways, and even in the bath rooms. Indoor plants have become so much a part of modern living that we now expect to see them in tastefully furnished homes, business buildings and recreation clubs. The temperatures of our homes today is generally suitable for the average house plant.

Formaldehyde used in foam insulation, pressed wood products and commercial paper products is a chemical found in virtually all indoor environments. Benzene, a commonly used solvent, is also present in many basic items, including inks, oils, paints, plastics and rubber goods. Trichloroethylene, a chemical considered by the National Cancer Institute to be a potent liver carcinogen, is used in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes and adhesives. The NASA study, which cost over one million dollars, was conducted while developing biotechnology for use in life support systems that can be used by astronauts working within the enclosed environment of a future space station or moon base.

NASA studies indicate that green plants are still better than most any kind of air filter for cleaning impurities from the air and providing the fresh oxygen needed by as turnouts in space, home and office living green plants are regularly used to battle sick building syndrome in modern skyscrapers, those with had air movement or air exchange problems. Plants have been widely used in schools, homes and offices in big buildings for cleaning the air. As a key part of the symbiotic relationship between plant and people, plants need the carbon dioxide that can poison us if we get too much, while they give off the oxygen we need. In the home, we should place high light foliage plants such as palm, scheffelera and weeping figs near windows. Most plants do best with the better light near windows, but there are many good low-light plants varieties of spathiphy them, or peace lily, Agloonema, the Chinese evergreen, or Dracaena, the corn plants. Watering to plants is a crucial time. Water should be applied, when the pots are dried. Over watering will also cause some problems. We should feed our plant with a water soluble fertilizer while they are water twice a month.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in research associated with the development of life support systems for future space stations, has found that common indoor plants can protect against rising levels of indoor air pollution. NASA officials reported that findings from a two- year study suggest indoor plants may provide a natural way to combat "sick building" syndrome a phenomenon in which workers complain of health problems such as itchy eyes, skin rashes, drowsiness, respiratory and sinus congestion, headaches and other allergy-related symptoms.

Pollution experts have determined that the air-tight sealing of modern buildings to help reduce spiraling energy costs has contributed significantly to these health problems. Similarly, synthetic building materials, which are known to emit various organic compounds, have been linked to numerous health complaints. One world health organization recently estimated that approximately 30 per cent of all new or remodeled buildings have varying degrees of indoor air pollution.

An environmental research, scientist at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Centre in Mississippi, said the space agency study shows that common landscaping plants can remove certain pollutants from the indoor environment and that future research will provide even further evidence that such plants can provide "pollution-free homes and work places". "Plants take substances out of the air through the tiny openings in their leaves", he said. "But research in our laboratories has determined that plant leaves, roots and soil bacteria are all important in removing trace levels of toxic vapours".

The NASA study demonstrates that indoor plants, along with their soil and roots, are able to remove three most toxic indoor air pollutants formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene from sealed experimental chambers. Experts report that there are actually hundreds of volatile organic compounds that contribute to indoor air pollution. Philodendron, spider plants and golden pothos were found to be the most effective in removing formaldehyde, while flowering plants such as gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums were rated superior in removing benzene from the chamber atmosphere. Other plants found effective air purifiers include the bamboo palm, peace lily, ficus, mass can, English ivy and Chinese evergreen. In addition, there are other plants, which are useful.

CHRYSANTHEMUM (COMPOSITAE): The common chrysanthemum, C. indicum grows better at higher altitudes, reaching a height of 2 feet, but there are several varieties, which produce reasonable flowers at see level. The flowers appear in pink, red, white, etc. It is very suitable for an indoor plant.

DAISY (ASTERACEAE- COMPOSITAE): The daisy family with about 15,000 species. It is a medicinal flower plant. It contains terpenoid compounds.

LILY (LILIACEAE): A lovely plant, producing many beautiful flowers of yellow and orange in clusters. Leaves thin, rather grass-lie, makes good pot specimens. Propagation by division of dumps suitable as indoor plant. The plant abso.rbs toxic gases.

PHILODENDRONS: Philodendrons are the most popular of all houseplants because they are so easy to grow. Philodendrons are used strictly as foliage plants, although they do have interesting and attractive flowers. Plants men estimate that about 250 varieties of Philodendrons are known today, of which approximately 100 are now on the market. The Philodendrons with heart-shaped leaves are well- known. There are also of with leaves like long ovals or enromous arrowheads. There are two general types of Philodendrons: climbing (or vining) and non-climbing (or self-heading). Some of them have surfaces as shiny as oildoth, others are as luxurious as velvet. Those with different colours on the undersides are fascinating and one variety even has a pink stem. So in Philodendrons alone there is a wide choice of plants to please the most discriminating artist, who wishes perfection in shape and texture. There are enough plants to make the selection difficult for the persons, who can have only one or two to keep in their homes or in other places of residence.