IAQ Trifecta, with Plants

Ventilation, Filtration and… Plants.

For Indoor Air Quality, ventilation is basically about the exchange of CO2 for Oxygen, although it also gains in importance if there are problems with TVOC (Total Volatile Organic Compounds) or HCHO (formaldehide), as these come mainly from man-made materials, and are not in outdoor air. Plants can be a complementary method of cleaning the air. Some plants are very good at scrubbing the air, including taking care of some chemicals in the air, and of course producing oxygen.

Filtration is a second part of the process and it could be separated in chemical and mechanical, of which the mechanical filtration is the most important. Fine dust is extremely damaging since it will blow past our defenses and do damage to our lungs. In the area below 2.5 micron that is where most pathogens also hang out, viruses, bacteria, spores of mold and mildew, etc., Note that ventilation in some cases can bring in more fine dust.

Legacy filters all work like a sieve, where the size of the holes determines the largest particles that can get through, with the trade-off being that the finer the mesh, the greater the wind-resistance. They are rated on the MERV scale. This is reflected in energy bills and wear and tear on equipment.

A unique diamond-shaped filter that fits inside a supply vent.

Our Dexwet Pure Air filter works on a different principle, a combination of air turbulence and absorption by a fluid that is applied to the filter. The Dexwet Absorber Fluid is a silicone liquid with an extremely low surface tension, so as dust particles settle down on the filter surfaces, they are absorbed and rendered inert because they are shut off from the oxygen. And the surface area expands as this happens, so that the filter actually becomes more effective over time. Maintenance cycles can be as long as one year.

Plants… How to Grow Fresh Air

There are actually two books titled How to Grow Fresh Air. The original book is How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants to Purify Your Home or Office, by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, and it goes back to research done for NASA, who have an obvious interest in finding out how to have healthy air in confined spaces. The book was first published in 1996 and it is the first go-to if you want to get serious about healthy air for your home or office. it has good illustrations, so you can easily identify the plants. Work with a good florist, and they can get you these plants. First lesson: no sanseverias (snake plants) in the office, for they make CO2 by day, and oxygen at night. Put them in your bedroom instead.

The book is beautiful, if you get the original Penguin edition, but for ease of reference, I also have the Kindle edition which has drawings, not the beautiful pictures of the Penguin edition. It was published in 2020 by Orion Publishing, and I use it for reference on the go. It is very systematic and gives you an overview of the science and then goes into the properties of 50 common house plants.

How to Grow Fresh Air… Indian Inspiration

India´s major cities have some of the worst air in the world, and the consequences are dire. Especially the PM2.5, particles of 2.5 microns or smaller are very damaging. Kamal Meatty went and sought out the NASA research, and the work of Wolverton, and he became an expert in India, to where his office building became one of the healthiest in Delhi.

Growing Fresh Air Indian Style

The title of the book is How to Grow Fresh Air: India´s Top Experts Teach, and I find it quite inspirational, for the main author starts with his own story. He is an MIT-trained engineer, and when he suffered a serious bout of allergies, and found out he had greatly diminished lung capacity because of air pollution, he went to work on the problem and he did not quit until he had it solved. Indoor air quality can be controlled. And living with plants is quite pleasant once you learn how to take care of them. A good place to start is this quote from the book:

NASA recommends using plants inside your home to improve air quality.[Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement’, NASA John C. Stennis Space Center, Science and Technology Laboratory, 15 September 1989. https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/19930073077]  At PBC, we have more than 15,000 plants across the building. Our studies showed us that this reduced instances of eye irritation by 52 per cent, respiratory issues by 34 per cent, headaches by 24 per cent, lung problems by 12 per cent and asthma by 9 per cent. Some of the most effective plants against air pollution are easily available, and when they are placed around the house they can bring down the level of toxins that roam freely inside our homes.

How to Grow Fresh Air, by Meattle, Aggarwal Kamal, Barun.

Whether it is at home or at the office, all of this is critical information, not to mention life changing. Once you become even a little educated, you will probably be motivated to start making changes. Explore all of the trifecta that I mentioned above, ventilation, filtration (Check out Dexwet Pure Air), and P L A N T S. They all work together. And please realize that many of the sources of pollution you cannot control, such as somebody´s new nylon jacket, various packaging materials, or even new furniture. Initially many of these products are sources of air pollution. But a lot of it is avoidable once you set your mind to it.

Today, this aspect is starting to take shape with a local collaboration between Carlos Antigua of TodayHVAC, 2776 Sedgwick ave Bronx, NY 10468, phone 347-792-4073, email [email protected] and Miguel´s Flower Shop of 1878 Cross Bronx Expressway, phone 718 – 931 3919.