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An app that helps you choose plants to control indoor pollution

An IIT graduate has developed a mobile application which will help Delhiites tackle high pollution levels with plants in their houses.

delhi Updated: Sep 26, 2016 12:44 IST
Soumya Pillai
Raunak Singhi, an engineer, decided to come up with the app as a solution for residents of the Capital and help them breathe fresh air at least inside their houses.
Raunak Singhi, an engineer, decided to come up with the app as a solution for residents of the Capital and help them breathe fresh air at least inside their houses.

An IIT graduate has developed a mobile application which will help Delhiites tackle high pollution levels with plants in their houses.

Raunak Singhi, an engineer, decided to come up with the app as a solution for residents of the Capital and help them breathe fresh air at least inside their houses.

The application, ‘Shelli’, will be formally launched next week.

“There is a lot of talk about the alarming pollution levels in the city. What we do not talk about or realize is that our homes have much higher pollution levels when compared to the levels outside,” Singhi said.

He adds that every household plant that we grow has properties to tackle a certain pollutant.

After downloading the mobile application, users will be required to answer a few questions, like the location of their house, proximity to drains, factories or roads. Based on the answers, a pollution profile of the user is created. The app then will suggest the types of plants that can be grown by the user.

For example, in residential neighbourhoods around industrial areas such as Okhla, high levels of sulphur dioxide is found in the air. But in areas around petrol pumps, the level of benzene is high in the air.

Studies conducted by NASA have revealed that indoor plants such as Lady Palm, Philodendron, Dwarf Date Palm, and Ficus Alii bring down formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide by at least 50% in just 24 hours.

Dr Ramesh Sen, a lung expert, said that these days the indoor environment cannot be termed safe since exposure to tobacco smoke, lead in paints and toys and emission from cooking stoves causes great harm to one’s health. The indoor pollutants are not only harmful for lungs but also adversely affect brain function with constant exposure.

The major pollutants in Delhi’s air are road dust, carbon monoxide and benzene, Sen said.

Read: Does your house make you sick? It’s time you kept these pollutants out

“Some indoor plants have been proven to absorb these pollutants and convert them into oxygen. People with major lung issues are often advised to place certain plants in their bed rooms so that the CO2 (carbon dioxide) is converted into oxygen,” Sen said.

Singhi said the idea for this venture came in 2012while he was still an IIT student. However, it was not till February this year that he seriously started developing this app.

“I sat on the idea for more than two years and then in October, last year, I decided to take it up seriously. I left my job and devoted seven months in experimenting how each plant reacts to different pollutants. I placed plants in over 50 houses and noted down the results,” he said.

Singhi is also planning to include Ayurvedic and mosquito repellent plants to his application in the coming months.

Which plant removes controls what pollutant?

1.Plant- Dracaena

Pollutant-Benzene, Formaldehyde

2. Plant-Peace Lily

Pollutant- Ammonia

3. Plant- Areca Palm

Pollutant-Carbon Dioxide

4. Plant: Money Plant

Pollutant-Volatile compounds and PM 2.5 (particulate matter)

5. Plant: Mother-in Law’s Tongue

Pollutant-Converts Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen at night