Plants benefit us by reducing pollution

Plants benefit us by reducing pollution

In Singapore, most of us will keep a plant or two around. At work, we often have a cactus or a money plant at our desk. When we reach home, we tend to reach out to the watering can and show our pot of orchid some tender care. Some of us even go beyond the usual plants to grow more exotic variants such as chilli padi and aloe vera.

Why do Singaporeans like to keep plants around

In our super urbanised environment, we face more concrete than nature and many of us can feel quite stressed out over this. By keeping a small plant near our working or living environment, we feel greater sense of balance. Also, seeing our plant grow often gives us a small feeling of achievement which can go a long way in maintaining our mental health. However, having plants in our living spaces actually do have more tangible benefits than improving our psychological wellbeing. In fact, plants actually help to reduce the toxicity and pollution in the air giving us a healthier space to live in.

Urban Pollution in Singapore

While the air in Singapore is not that fresh, it is not heavily polluted either. According to National Environment Agency of Singapore, most of the air pollution in Singapore is the result of industries, motor vehicles and the occasional haze. However given that most of our industries are relatively high tech, they emit very little air pollution relative to other countries. However, that does not mean that urban air pollution does not concern Singapore.

Haze in Singapore

Those who have lived in Singapore over the past 10 years will remember the days where the Indonesian fires caused haze to reach over 250 psi. During those days, it was very evident that we have always taken the clean air that we have in Singapore for granted. With such a serious haze, it was impossible to be out in the open for extended periods of time. Going to work in the morning was strenuous for the corporate workers who stayed in Air conditioned offices. Work was practically impossible for other Singaporeans who work in the open. With everyone hiding from the smog, retail sales dropped and the entire economic productivity of the country dipped. The worst of it all was that it was not something that Singapore could actively control as the haze originated from our neighbouring countries and only diplomatic mutual cooperation can be used to quell the flames and resolve the haze problem.

How can our plants help us?

Plants help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the space around us. Plants have a rather symbiotic relationship with humans and other creatures on earth. While we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, plants use the latter as a critical component for photosynthesis. By having plants around us, we allow them to increase the amount of oxygen in our spaces.

That said, one plant will not be able to help us. However, if we can have more plants around us, we certainly will not have that much carbon dioxide in the air that we breathe.

1. Reducing Carbon Dioxide

Just like we need oxygen, the same way plants need carbon dioxide and thus, they trap the high quantities of it to convert it into oxygen. The high amount of carbon released from cars, appliances, and industries are absorbed every second from the trees and plants around and are used in the breakdown process to release high amounts of oxygen

2. Absorbs Dangerous Toxins

Many of us may not know this but there are actually many types of toxins in the air that we breathe. Some examples are Benzene and Trichloroethylene. While these are safe in small quantities, they are more concentrated due to our modern environment. Benzene, a compound found in petrochemicals are commonly found in detergents and other oil based products. This includes rubber and latex paints. Such products are widely used in both our offices and homes. The paint we use, the foams we use in chairs and the detergents that we use daily to clean our daily utensils all contains these harmful toxins.

Plants remove toxins in the air via a process called phytoremediation. Plants reduce toxin levels by either breaking down organic pollutants or trapping those inorganic ones. You may not believe that the plants that you own are so powerful but a study by Wolverton revealed that swamp plants in Vietnam actually played a major role in stabilising and reducing the impact of Agent Orange, a biological toxin that was used by the United States to wipe out the Guerilla forces during the Vietnam War.

3. Increasing moisture in the air

Plants improve the moisture in the air and prevents the problem of having dry air in both your houses and offices. Dry air is damaging because it irritates the skins and may leads to itchy eyes. It can also lead to increased static electricity that can cause mild shocks to us. This is the reason why you keep getting mild static shocks when you are walking along city link. Plants increase the moisture in the air as water vapor is transpires through the pores in the leaves. As plants lose more than 90% of the water they absorb through transpiration, it is akin to having your own humidier.

As we are busy with our flower deliveries in Singapore, we have not got the time to upload our plants for sae. That said, we will get to it soon!

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