How Snake Plants Work to Combat Indoor Air Pollution
Snake plant purifies the air by absorbing toxins through the leaves and producing pure oxygen.
With air purifiers being out of budget for many, what role can indoor plants really play in tackling indoor air pollution?
Snake plants also known as Sansevierias are known for their air purifying qualities, and during the lockdown, many have taken to growing them indoors.
We spoke to environmental experts about snake plants to understand if they can be a realistic replacement for air purifiers.
A Purifying Succulent
‘‘Snake plant is a hardy succulent and it plays a significant role in curbing air pollution. It purifies the air by absorbing toxins through the leaves and producing pure oxygen. Whereas most other plants release carbon dioxide in the absence of photosynthesis during the night, the snake plants produce oxygen. It also releases moisture and lessens airborne allergens,’’ says Rajveer Singh Brar, an environmentalist based in Kapurthala, Punjab.
According to Mudita Chauhan, Bsc, Biotechnology student at Shoolini University, ‘’Snake plant most specifically Sansevierias are known for their ability to purify or detoxify air by removing or absorbing harmful air particles like cancer-inducing components, nitrogen oxide, C02, etc."
How Do They Work?
According to Brar, the purifying process takes place in four steps including absorbing carbon dioxide, benzene, xylene, toluene, and removing formaldehyde.
“In a study done in 2015, it was observed that snake plants remove carbon dioxide during night time and release oxygen. Thus it helps in providing a healthy environment. According to WHO, major sources of benzene are automobiles from attached garage, heating and cooling system, solvents. Exposure to benzene causes nausea and vomiting,’’ says Rajveer Brar.
He adds, “Snake plants also help in absorbing formaldehyde from the air. Formaldehyde emits from cooking, smoking, cosmetics etc and formaldehyde resin paints on wooden furniture are the major sources of formaldehyde.’’
Xylene is mainly produced from petroleum products. Buildings with poor ventilation have a higher level of xylene. In a normally ventilated house xylene ranges from 1-10 ppb. Snake plants absorb xylene in the indoor environment and are useful in buildings with poor ventilation.
"A major source of toluene is solvents in paints, plastic & soda bottles, gasoline, and paint cosmetics. Toluene has harmful effects on children’s health and reproductive system in females. Snake plant helps in removing toluene from the indoor environment."Rajveer Singh Brar, Environmentalist
Snake Plants Are Environment Friendly
Snake plants are cost-efficient. An air purifier can cost anywhere from Rs 10,000 to 40,000. An average snake plant will cost around Rs 500, inclusive of a claypot.
It helps that snake plants, unlike purifiers, are completely biodegradable and dumping them won't harm the environment.
"Studies, including those performed by NASA, have consistently shown the plant to remove toxins which means that industries and workspaces such as automotive plants and shops, aircraft plants, plywood, carpeting, paint makers and sellers, printing, and offices, where these chemicals abound in the products produced and used, would greatly benefit by keeping several Sansevieria around."Rajveer Singh Brar, Environmentalist
He adds that "snake plants can not only help in reducing toxins, but they are also resilient and low maintenance and also greenery has therapeutic effects on the body and mind.”
Keep in Mind
If you are planning on keeping the plants indoor, don't over water them. Once or twice is week is enough.
Also, they grow best in indirect sunlight.
It's important to keep them away from pets and children as the leaves, if consumed, are mildly toxic.
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