A sansevieria trifasciata snake plant in the window of a modern home or apartment interior.

Environmental pollution is the contamination of the biological and physical components of the air to such an extent that normal environmental processes are adversely affected. Air pollution is pollution of environment by addition of chemical substances, noxious gases, particulate matter etc that disturb its natural chemical and physical makeup.

Consequences of Air Contamination

Air pollution comes from the natural and man-made sources like combustion, construction, mining, Agriculture, cars, industrialisation and war. Common gaseous air pollutants include carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, chlorofluorocarbans (CFCs) and nitrogen oxides together with particulate matter or dust.

Pollution causes not only physical ailments but also behavioral and psychological disorders in human beings like headache, bronchitis, asthama, irritation of eyes, cardiovascular disease etc.. Animals and plants can also be affected by contamination. Fine particles or microscopic dust from wood or coal fires and unfiltered diesel engines are ranked among the most lethal types of air pollution caused by industry, transportation, household heating, irrigation and cooking or oil-fired power stations.

Indoor Air Pollution

Along with outdoor air pollution, Indoor air pollution is currently viewed badly by many health organizations as one of the best risk to human health since the majority of the people today spend about 90 percent of the time indoor either at office or home. Polluted indoor air quality imposes both short term (Irritation of eyes, nausea, headache, allergic reactions, asthma) and long term (chronic bronchitis, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, liver and kidney impairment ) impacts on health.

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a term referring to the air quality inside and around buildings as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Over three billion people worldwide continue to rely on solid fuels, such as biomass fuels (wood, dung, agricultural residues) and coal, for their energy requirements. Cooking and heating with solid fuels on open fires or conventional stoves leads to elevated levels of indoor air pollution. Indoor smoke comprises a range of health-damaging pollutants, such as small particles and carbon monoxide.

Indoor Air Pollution is widespread both at rural and urban levels. Urban Indoor Air pollution can be experienced in badly ventilated compact buildings such as Apartments, Auditoriums, theaters, hospitals, schools, colleges etc because of human gatherings and contemporary life style commodities as Air Conditioners, Vacuum cleaners room fresheners, sprays, disinfectants, paints, and smoking addiction etc.. Rural Indoor Air Pollution is mainly because of use of standard stoves using natural gas (Coal, wood) for cooking that discharge great deal of smoke and CO that affects respiratory procedure.

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) can be affected by microbial contamination, gases such as Radon, CO, CO2, Volatile Organic Compounds as formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, particulate matter, pollen and fungal spores, pesticides etc or any mass or energy stress that may cause adverse health conditions. Most of indoor pollutants are carcinogenic and neurotoxins.

IAQ can be improved by proper ventilation, use of filters and exhaust fans up to some extent. Alternative Method to tackle Indoor Air Pollution

Some plants which could be grown indoor (shade loving plants) can be safely manipulated as good supply of reducing indoor air pollution. Plants by virtue of the ability to photosynthesize can absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide gas through stomata and release oxygen as a byproduct so make the air suitable to breathe by human beings. Plants give off additional water vapour through stomata by physiogical procedure transpiration thus causing coolness and increase humidity in the surrounding atmosphere. So plants are ready to the purpose of air purifier and act as replacement for air conditioners up to some extent. Plants are more capable of filtering pollutants than air filters and purifiers that consume electricity. Added bonus when plants serve as purifiers is that they’re beautiful and supply natural decorative situation (greenery) which cause calmness and peace into the interior. Plants are inexpensive, require no power to operate.

Plants as Indoor Air Cleaners

Studies indicate that houseplants remove indoor air pollutants. Most houseplants have likely developed from plants that grow in the understory of rainforests and beneath canopy of huge trees like Banyan Ficus etc.. These plants must have the ability to endure the high concentrations of mold and mildew and protect against attack to their leaves. They’ve adapted by creating microbes on the main system which serves the goal of biodegrading mould and mildew and are also able to, effectively biodegrade common indoor pollutants such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and benzene, which are by products of household and cleaning goods, and offer protection against airborne bacterial spores.

Plants together with medium in which they’re grown are able to eliminate 99. 9% toxins from polluted indoor air especially VOCs. It’s not the foliage but associated soil bacteria that develop in rhizosphere of those potted indoor plants are capable of biodegrading toxic compounds when triggered by plant root development.

There are approximately 50 plants that could be grown indoor that have likely developed from plants growing in understorey of rainforests and beneath canopy of huge trees. Names of some commonly used plants acceptable for Indian ecological conditions is cited below:

    • Anthurium
    • Begonia
    • Asplenium
    • Dieffenbachia
    • Dracaena
    • Rubber Plant
    • Fittonia
    • Maranta
    • Monstera
    • Syngonium
    • Alocasia
    • Philodendron
    • Pothos,
    • Bamboo Palm,
    • Poinsettia
    • Peace lily
    • Azalea
    • Areca Palm
    • Bosten Fern
    • Dwarf Date Palm

DIY Houseplants Pots for a Healthy Environment

To maintain the internal environment healthy and free of pollutants it’s suggested to set the potted indoor plants in the room or assembly hall, schools, hospitals in a location where sunlight goes for sometime during day hours. However, important questions exist as to whether plants may actually affect indoor air satisfactorily. Some scientists demonstrate the effectiveness of plants as indoor air cleaners.

It was originally assumed that the plants removed the compounds by uptake through the leaves and photosynthetic processes But by research measuring the number of pollutants in presence of plants with leaves and after removing leaves indicate it is not the leaves but rhizosphere microflora (soil bacteria) of those plants have the ability to degrade and decompose the pollutants. The scientists identified several common soil bacteria isolates from the root-soil zone which are capable of biodegrading toxic chemicals when triggered by plant root growth

As plants eliminate pollutants and make the environment clean, awareness should be created among masses because of their cultivation, propagation and appreciation

For gardening and maintenance of Indoor plants appropriate care should be taken

The plants should be grown in pots with mild potting mixture having dirt, fertilizers and sand.

The pots should be placed where at some fraction of sun enters. The plants could be brought out once a week for couple hours.

The plants should be properly watered and cleaned. Water logging ought to be prevented as soil microflora really hamper the indoor pollutants.