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Quality Air from House Plants

Posted by Team ADI on


Watch Kumal Meattle's TED Talk here!

Everyone knows that the air we breathe comes from all the plants around us. In school, you may have been taught that plants breathe out what we breath in, or maybe you’ve heard that interesting factoid that The Amazon Rainforest produces over 20% of all the oxygen on Earth ( We all know how important the quality of our air is, yet this fact is often completely neglected in some of the most populated places on Earth. Smog, polluted air that hangs over cities like Bejing, Los Angeles, and Delhi, is not only foul and unattractive, it is physically harmful as well. In a recent and disturbing report from BloombergBusiness (,  air pollution in China as become so toxic as to be the cause of 4,000 deaths a day. Unhealthy air conditions in Delhi, India have caused one man, Kamal Meatle, to become allergic to the very atmosphere he lives in. With urbanization showing no indication of slowing anytime in the future, what can we do to bring the our quality of air back to levels it should be?

Luckily, Meattle, with the help of institutions like IIT and TERI, has found an ingenious and natural solution. And lucky for us, TED Talks has given Meattle a platform to share his solution with everyone. When Meattle’s lung capacity dropped 30% due to the smog of the city, he sought to bring nature to him, and with it, some fresh air.


In his TED Talk, Meattle reveals 3 specific types of houseplants that have different interactions with the air around them, the Areca palm, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, and the money plant. He explains that the Areca palm, the day plant, will convert more CO2 into O2 during daylight hours while Mother-in-law’s Tongue, the night plant, will convert more CO2 into O2 during nighttime hours (unfortunately, he does not reveal why the plant has such a comically unfortunate name). The money plant, he explains, is called the ‘specialty plant’ because, in addition to converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, it absorbs toxic chemicals in the air like formaldehydes, cleaning the air it occupies.


Not only would having enough of these plants provide you with all the fresh, clean air you need to survive, Meattle reveals the numerous, specific health benefits that a building with this plant set up provides, “Our studies have found that there is a 42 percent probability of one's blood oxygen going up by one percent if one stays indoors in this building for 10 hours... compared to other buildings, there is a reduced incidence of eye irritation by 52 percent, respiratory systems by 34 percent, headaches by 24 percent, lung impairment by 12 percent and asthma by nine percent.” Even beyond health improvements, this plant arrangement increased productivity by 20% and reduced energy costs by 15%. Needless to say, we here at ADI were thrilled with this research and we hope to incorporate this type of natural air production into our own work space.

All of this was achieved without expensive or complicated air filtering or conditioning systems but, rather, by recognizing that these devices already exist within nature, engineered through millions of years of evolution to produce the perfect atmosphere for human beings.

  • Kevin Land, Team ADI

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    • Fixed! And thanks!

      Kevin Land on

    • In your article’s first line, it should say “the air we breathe” (not breath).
      This is a fascinating article!

      Laura on

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