Surrounding yourself with plants improves the mood, wakes up the sense of life and serenity. But plants may be also useful to improve the places where we live thanks not just to their ornamental role but also because they can clean the air by removing several pollutants. The plants aren’t all effective in the same way, however, there is a list drawn up by the scientists of NASA in the 80s that includes 50 plants found to be particularly effective against toxic substances. The study, performed by dr Wolverton, can be read online, the title of the work is Interior Ladscape Plants for indoor air pollution abatement. Among the plants indicated by Wolverton, what emerges is that the pants belonging to the Liliaceae family are the most active to remove the pollutants that may result dangerous to the humans. To this family of plants belong the spider plant, scientific name Chlorophytum comosum, the dracaena, the sansevieria, also called mother-in-law’s tongue because of the particular elongated shape of its leaves, and the aloe vera.
Aloe, properties and effectiveness
Aloe vera, scientific name Aloe barbadensis miller, has long, thick, fleshy and green leaves, with thorns at the sides. Inside the leaves there is a gel characterized by powerful purifying and anti-inflammatory properties. This gel is used to heal wounds, to soothe sunburns, to counteract problems of the skin such as itching, dermatitis, acne and dandruff but also, if taken orally, to purify the body from toxins, to stimulate the work of the liver and to keep at bay the blood sugar levels, the triglycerides and the cholesterol (Hashemi et al, Biomed Res Int, May 2015 - Foster et al, Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects). Well, aloe, according to the studies of Wolverton, has also another interesting and healthy property, it is able to remove indeed the 90% of formaldehyde in a room. This action has also been confirmed by more recent studies (Teiri et al, Int J Prev Med, Aug 2018), that, although have a bit downsized its action, have in any case demonstrated the effectiveness of aloe against formaldehyde. Indeed, on the basis of these researches, aloe vera has proven to be able to remove the 53% of formaldehyde present in a room, moreover, it is resulted also that the ability to remove formaldehyde increases with repeated exposures of the plant to the substance. The difference between the work of Wolverton and the more recent studies may be linked to the type of plant, to its age and dimension. A plant of aloe vera, indeed, reaches the mature age and performs its maximum action only after 5 years. In any case, beyond these differences, what emerges from these researches is that aloe is a plant able to remove, at least partially, the formaldehyde, a carcinogenic substance to humans but that can, unluckily, found very easily in closed spaces such as houses and offices. Formaldehyde is released by pressed wood products, insulators, cigarette smoke, paints, varnishes, products for house cleaning, cosmetics such as nail hardeners or solvents for nail polish (Rovira et al, J Environ Sci Health A, Jan 2016).
Finally, for what concerns the cultivation, aloe may be kept in a pot, outdoor with nice and warm weather and indoor during winter. You just should pay attention to the soil, you should mix indeed potted soil and sand in order to avoid stagnation of water that may cause the roots to rot. Watering should be more frequent in summer, usually one time in a week and in any case only when the soil is dry, and less frequent in the other seasons, 1-2 times in a month. And when aloe produces new plants these may be harvested and placed in another pot in order to go on with the cultivation of aloe!