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Science & Technology»Growing Fresh Air with 8 Powerful Plants

»Tuesday, May 18,2010

What do you do when you become allergic to the air?  When your lungs begin to shut down because the air is too contaminated?

Kamal Meattle suffered from this fate and guess what his solution was? Grow new air. Based on years of NASA studies, other scientific research, and 15 years of his own testing, Meattle discovered that three common houseplants, used strategically throughout a home, could vastly improve the indoor air quality.

Here's the breakdown:

Areca Palm is "The Living Room Plant" - This plant is a daytime oxygen factory and Meattle recommends having 4 shoulder height plants per person.

Mother-in-Law's Tongue is "The Bedroom Plant" - This plant is an evening oxygen factory and Meattle recommends having 6-8 waist-high plants per person.

Money Plant is "The Specialist Plant" - This plant is the filter that removes formaldehyde and other volatile organic chemicals from the air.

If maintained appropriately, Meattle claims you could live inside a bottle with a cap on top and these three plants would generate all the fresh air you need.

Not looking to live in a bottle? These plants will certainly still improve your indoor air quality (even if you don't have quite so many). And, if you're not satisfied with just three options, other new research has identified five "super ornamentals" that demonstrated high effectiveness of contaminant removal.

These include the purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternataa), English ivy (Hedera Helix), variegated wax plant (Hoya cornosa), Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus) and the Purple heart plant (Tradescantia pallida).

Of the 28 plants tested, these five were effective at reducing levels of a number of common household VOCs, including benzene, toluene, octane, alpha-pinene and TCE. The work, funded by the University of Georgia's Agricultural Experiment Stations, was published in the August 2009 issue of HortScience.

Ready to grow your own fresh air? NASA studies recommend that you use one good-sized houseplant in a 6 to 8-inch diameter container for every 100 square feet of your home. Though, additional research is being done to identify exactly how many of each type of species is necessary for remediation (as in Meattle's work). You should also be sure to keep the foliage clean and dust free (so the leaves can do their job). And, keep the top of soil clean and free of debris, as in some cases, that's where the bulk of the filtering is taking place.

The healthier your plants, the more vigorously they'll grow, and the better they'll clean the air for you.





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