We often hear about people falling ill with respiratory conditions owing to the indiscriminate pollutants that we breathe day in and day out. A smoggy morning that leads to coughing, waste management gone waste with sewage run-offs and noise pollution leading to auditory health issues. Indiscriminate so-called “development” has led to the development of a host of other problems. So much so, that the theme for the 2017 World Environmental Health Day (26th September) has been declared as “Indoor & outdoor air quality”. On 6th March 2017 Margaret Chan, Director General WHO launched a worldwide campaign to tackle air pollution as the ‘major public health issue of our generation’. India has taken tow to this grave declaration- in a latest news we have seen that the Central Government plans to tackle the issue of health hazards by training unemployed youths in rural areas as environment warriors and imparting them with the necessary skills.
While the authorities may do their bit, environmental health hazards affect every living and breathing citizen. We may feel that we have no control over what air we breathe considering that much of it spews out of snooty chimneys and spewing vehicles, but how many of us know that there is something called indoor pollutants too? These are the chemical fumes that are emitted by the modern devices and materials that we use in our homes. To tackle these we must do our own little bit to ensure we breathe a bit better quality air indoors. So how can you and I make that happen? The solution, as most of the time, lies in nature herself.
Solve nature-dilemmas by turning to nature herself!
So why not take things (read plants) in our hands, and make plants a part of our every day lives. Yes, planting specific plants or trees in and around our home premises is a great way to improve the air quality. Here is a guide on which plants and trees you can make your daily friends and create a pollution-free home environment!
- Garden Mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium): This is the champion of champions, as per a NASA research on air quality. It helps remove pollutants such as benzene, ammonia, formaldehyde, xylene and other chemical components that lurk around our homes. The best part is that their colourful flowers are not only sure to lift the air quality, but also our spirits! And they need very little maintenance, so those who are commitment-phobic to watering plants daily- revel in their easy maintenance!
- Spider plant (Chlorophytum Comosum “Vittatum”): An expert at removing formaldehyde and xylene components from the air, the spiderplant enthuses everyone with its green cheerful presence and easy demeanour. The plant thrives in bright, indirect sunlight. Being easy on maintenance, it is a great beginner’s plant.
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.): A gorgeous flowering plant that goes into bloom most of the summer, the peace lily is literally sure to give you a dose of peace! Though relatively small in size, they are great air-purifiers, battling the likes of ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. However, they do produce some degree of pollen and floral scents, so those with a pollen allergy may want to stay away from these. If you decide to keep it, select a nice shady spot and it will delight you with its blooms!
- Ficus-weeping fig (Ficus benjamina): For those who love tall trees and would like a tree for a home-companion, this one is the right one. Many of us know about the virtues of the Ficus family- wasp-pollinators, shade-givers and fruit-bearers. But little did we know that it is adept at battling benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene too. Great both as a garden plant outdoors and an indoors plant for that drawing room corner, it adores bright, indirect light. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings and it will grow best.
- Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata v. Bostoniensis): For those staying in places with high humidity, ferns are the best bet for natural air-cleaning. The plant removes formaldehyde and xylene, but only when it gets its required share of moistness. So keep the soil of the potted plant soaking wet and you will have a helpful and low-maintenance friend in this fern.
- Aloe Vera ( barbadensis): If you want to pack a punch, look no further than Aloe Vera. Not only is this plant an expert at removing formaldehyde from the atmosphere, but you can indulge in its medicinal properties right at home, the organic way. Great for the skin and digestive system, get your own home-made aloe vera face pack or juice. A sure-fire recipe for glowing skin, in all ways!
The choices to minimize air pollution the natural way are many. It is just a question of taking the first baby steps to contribute. Moreover, growing household plants has multiple benefits. Not only do they increase oxygen levels and thereby physical health, frequent green-encounters are known to relieve stress and fatigue. Bayer recommends the following density of indoor plants,
- To improve health and reduce fatigue and stress: One large plant (8-inch diameter pot or larger) every 129 square feet
- To purify air: Use 15 to 18 plants in 6- to 8-inch diameter pots for a 1,800-square-foot house. OR one larger plant every 100 square feet. Achieve similar results with two smaller plants (4- to 5-inch pots).
So why wait when we have the chance to create a green and clean environment for us and our loved ones? Take a pledge this World Environmental Health Day and change the health of your immediate world i.e. your own home as well as your family, now!
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