Green Living

For a breath of fresh air

There is a growing concern about the quality of air in our cities. Air pollution is now a major cause of diseases in India and reducing the amount of pollutants should be our primary focus. As a first step, plant trees that purify the air in and around your home. The African tulip tree is a good option for planting by compound walls. With its fragrance and bright orange coloured flowers, it has great visual appeal too. The pacific rosewood or poovarasa maram, the Bengal almond tree and the yellow flame tree can be grown on the streets with a gap of five metres between each tree. “These four trees have the capacity to absorb and mitigate gases emitted by vehicles,” says K. Baranidharan, Asst. Professor, Forest College and Research Institute, Mettupalayam. He has been researching on how trees can help combat urban air pollution. As for tackling dust pollution, he recommends planting trees with numerous tiny leaves like the rain tree ( thoongu moonji maram) and tamarind. “Together, their leaf surface is greater than trees that have fewer broad leaves,” he says.

Prof. M. Amirthalingam of the C.P. Ramaswamy Environmental Education Centre says, “Research by scientists like Nayar, Ramamurthy and Agarwal suggests that the neem tree can absorb dust at the rate of 2.92 gm per sq.m. of leaf surface a day.” With constant trimming, the tree can be accommodated in just five sq.ft. of ground space. Prof. Amirthalingam also recommends the night jasmine or pavazhamalli and the mountain ebony or the mandarai shrub for smaller spaces. He says, “ Pavazhamalli requires only about three sq.ft. and makes the air fragrant and fresh. The mandarai grows to a height of five feet and absorbs dust.”

If you have a lot of space, you could also plant the peepal tree as it generates extraordinary amounts of oxygen and has immense medicinal value. Meanwhile, NASA research recommends plants like the areca palm, mother-in-law’s tongue, and the money plant to detox indoor air. However, indoor plants need to be kept near an open window to expel the carbon dioxide that they generate after sunset.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 3:09:29 PM |

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