Monday, April 22, 2013

Aloe Vera & Other Air Improving Plants

aloe vera plant
Over the last couple of years I've been filling my house with plants. And attempting to keep them all alive. Not just 'cos they look good, but also because it's been proven that some plants actually improve the air.  A NASA study found that some plants remove as much as 87% of indoor air pollutants within 24 hours.

Plants can remove the chemicals:
Trichloroethylene (TCE) which is considered a potent liver carcinogen found in such things as inks, paints and glues.
Benzene an eye and skin irritant which can be found in, for example, paints, plastics, and rubber.
Formaldehyde which is found all over the place in the home. It is used in particle board and pressed wood products, paper products, cleaning products, carpets and cooking fuels like natural gas. Formaldehyde is an irritant which in high exposure can cause headaches. Asthma has been linked to formaldehyde exposure.

There was a study of plants in an office building in India that found the incidence of eye irritation reduced by 52%, lower respiratory symptoms by 34%, headaches by 24%, upper respiratory symptoms by 20%, lung impairment by 10-12% and Asthma by 9%. You can read about that here.

A list of air filtering plants can be found here. They include: Mother-in-Laws Tongue, Peace Lily, Heart-Leaf Philodendron, Bamboo Palm and Spider Plant.
Mother-in-Law's Tongue & Peace Lily
Anyway, I have plants in my lounge and kitchen and bathroom. All over the place in fact. But not in my bedroom. I did initially have a couple of beauties in there. Until I was reminded on this very blog by something I think I learned in high school. That plants do something tricky at night time - photosynthesis shuts down and they produce carbon dioxide just like us. So it's probably not a good idea to have them in your bedroom.

Then, last week I read that aloe vera plants are a bit different to others in that they do produce oxygen at night ... and so do Mother-in-Laws Tongue and cactus.

This news excited me greatly because I just happened to have an aloe vera plant in a pot outside that has been multiplying and is looking rather healthy. So I thought I'd clean up the pot and pop it beside my bed.

And that very night I jumped into bed and started to bore Monkey Man with my limited scientific knowledge about plants and how I was sure I could already breathe easier in this room. And I instructed Monkey Man to suck up that fresh super-oxygenated air that was being produced by the magic of aloe vera. And then I looked at my lovely, oxygenating aloe vera plant and noticed something that shut me up rather quickly. Three fat, slimy slugs and a snail were slithering their way all over my plant, only a few centimetres from my face.

It seems that those stupid self-watering pots with the little hole at the bottom probably ought not to be put outside and then brought back in a few months later. They provide lovely daytime hidey holes for creatures.  Icky creatures that do not belong in the bedroom. So after begging Monkey Man to dispose of the slugs, I stuffed the hole with tissues and tried not to think of the possibility of red back spiders creeping out of the plant hole and into my bed while I slept a sound sleep sucking up that super fresh air.


  1. This is really interesting. I think I might just have to invest in some indoor plants now. I have an aloe vera plant at work but now I think I'll bring it home. Thanks for sharing this really worthwhile information! :)

  2. oh my gosh you make me back spiders, well at that thought I would have thrown the pot outside............

  3. Made me laugh about the slugs that had made your aloe vera plant their home.
    We have a couple of ferns in the bathroom. They look lovely and seem to thrive in the humid environment.

  4. That is very funny (about the slugs I mean). I don't have any plants inside, something I clearly need to rectify after reading this post. All through high school I had plants in my bedroom though, not sure that I noticed any issues with breathing, or indeed sleeping.

  5. Great information. I know only of it as a decoration inside. Didn't know that it has good purpose. That makes sense.

  6. Plants do produce CO2 during night but they have to be huge and there has to be lots of them with all the doors and windows of your room closed to have any effect on you. So, I think we all can put small plants in our bedroom without thinking about such things :-). I also have them everywhere.

  7. Here is a true and disturbing story... Once upon a time I was contracted to the governments building management department. I sat across from the group who dealt with environment issues, and one day overheard them talking about a public school who was reporting an abnormal amount of children suffering from illness following a building refurbishment. Speaking with one of the staff afterwards, apparently the children were removed and plants were brought in. Not only did the plants purify the air they had learnt their times tables ;)

    What disturbs me about this story is that all the products used in the refurbishment would have passed safe toxic levels. But these safety regulations do not take into account that these products may be present in conjunction with others.

  8. How nice to read about air purifying plants. Coincidently, we also just posted about a plant which also good as air purifier.


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