Indoor plants that uptake CO2, give off O2 and are safe for cats

Discussion in 'Indoor and Greenhouse Plants' started by 3catsandme, Apr 26, 2022.

  1. 3catsandme

    3catsandme New Member

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    Hi all,


    I have some questions concerning house plants...


    Home size: About 1,100sq ft apartment on an upper floor, 3 bedroom 1 living room 2 bath, kitchen, balconies. Indoor space that usually stays open is about 950 sq ft.

    Doors shut most of the time: balcony, bath, kitchen

    Inhabitants: 3 cats, two adult humans

    Windows: usually remain closed - pollution -cats

    Air purification: Electrolux A9 for living room, smaller one in bedroom A3.

    Location: Taipei, Taiwan

    Climate: Hot and humid summers - but with AC it is too dry I use a humidifier in the bedroom, humid cold winters.

    Humidity: Usually 45-80% in winter. With dehumidifer I can get get it down to 35-40% in the bedroom where the problem is.


    Problem: Bedroom CO2 levels recently have been ranging from 1800ppm to 2500+ ppm especially in the morning. Waking up with headaches. One morning Oximeter reading was like 92, I think it was inaccurate but scary.

    If the plants thrive on humidity then do I need to stop using the dehumidifier?

    And in summer with AC on it is too dry, so I have to use a humidifier

    I am looking for a variety of plants to resolve this problem. My thoughts are Boston ferns, maybe a couple of cacti on higher shelves where the cats cannot get them and/or some succulents. But... I am not sure what is going to work better. And how many I am actually going to need. Floor/hanging? Variety?

    And another thing is bugs.... once I have them, how do I control the bugs? Just with sticky paper? We have a huge problem, every time I try to have plants, even outdoors on a balcony I end up with crawling bugs all over my dirt that kill my roots and I have to throw out the plants!

    They have to be safe for cats, as I am sure the ones I have are going to try to eat them. Cactus needs to be up high in rooms they do not go, perhaps a bathroom or higher shelf, I have some places to put them. But our apartment is small, so there is limited space for everything.


    Suggestions? Thanks.
     
  2. vitog

    vitog Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    One thing to keep in mind regarding CO2 is that plants produce it when there is insufficient light for photosynthesis. That may explain why your CO2 levels are highest in the morning. You can check the Internet to see how much CO2 houseplants absorb with various light levels, but I doubt that it is enough under most practical circumstances. I think that you might need some outside air to keep your CO2 levels below the maximum recommended 1000 ppm. To avoid air pollution you probably need to bring outside air in through a purifier. I'm not sure if you need it in your climate, but our house brings in outside air through a heat exchanger.
     
  3. 3catsandme

    3catsandme New Member

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    Vitog, we currently do not have any plants in our house. So I am sure this is not what is causing the high CO2 levels in the mornings. But yes, I am aware that plants may also give off CO2 depending on the type of plant and the amount of light. Now, we have a big window in our bedroom that could get some light, but all windows are tinted brown, this cannot be changed. A heat exchanger of course would be a great solution, however, our building has no way of installing such device. In newer buildings and more expensive properties they may have such things already built in to their design, unfortunately for us, that is not the case.

    So I am still in need of a solution...
     
  4. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    High levels of CO2 are indicative of insufficient ventilation. I suspect introducing plants would not solve the problem. In any case your environment may not be suitable for growing plants because of the window tinting. Therefore it would be prudent to run a test on a small number of plants for an extended trial period if you choose to do so.

    Document which may be of interest: Indoor Air Quality: Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide (AEN-125) - Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.
     
  5. vitog

    vitog Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I don't know what is available in Taiwan, but there are plenty of single room ventilation systems offered on the Web. They do require holes in the wall, which could be a problem; but there should be some way to build a custom structure in a partly open window to allow air to pass in and out.
     
  6. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    There are many different types of fans available for sliding windows. However, you could try running the kitchen and/or bathroom fans at various times during the day to see if that helps.
     
  7. 3catsandme

    3catsandme New Member

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    Heat/air exchange units are available here, but there is no way to hide the units for us, it will look quite horrible and lots of tubing and wires, etc. It is not something we are prepared to do. And in one room may not be enough. By opening our windows more often recently I have gotten the CO2 more in control of between about 800-1300ppm. But at night it still shoots up. I also suspect that per season it will change.

    Also running bathroom fans with doors opened and windows has helped, but we cannot leave windows opened all day and need to be careful as we have pets. I am considering buying some window fans, but it hard to find something that will fit and also has filters to try to limit the pollution allowed in.

    Opening windows though poses an increase in pollution issues, although we have air purification, the point of having it is to keep windows closed to keep the pollution out.

    I still believe that the right kind of plants can assist with adding oxygen to the rooms and taking in CO2, but I don't want plants that are also going to release tons of CO2 during the nights. I think we have enough light to allow plants to grow. Some do not need much light at all. So again.. I am looking for plant suggestions to try because these are going to be the easiest and cheapest to see what if anything they can do for us, and then adding the more expensive more difficult options as they are needed. People keep plants inside here, I just am not sure what kind of plants, and they seem to do ok even in office buildings with tinted windows and no grow lights.
     
  8. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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  9. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Would a window fan need to have a filter if it was set to expel air from inside the apartment? Incoming air would come through cracks and be purified by the devices which you already have. Have you considered all the sources of CO2 and where improvements could be made?
     
  10. 3catsandme

    3catsandme New Member

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    Wcutler, well, this is one of the sites that is similar to those I have seen, but I appreciate this one because it gives a bit more details for each plant. The only thing is it does not mention how much CO2 is released, which probably is a very very difficult thing to test for.

    I had not considered to use a fan for blowing air out instead of in, however, I am not sure how effectively this would be because there is still a ventilation issue or lack of O2 production. We live in a concrete building, it's pretty sealed, not completely but still probably better than wooden houses, as windows are all metal instead of wood with rubber seals. There must be some cracks and things that air does get in from windows and doors, but I am not sure how much. As for considering all sources of CO2, am I missing something? CO2 mostly is caused by human's breathing and cooking, and when we cook we do open the balcony windows to ventilate. I thought maybe it might be caused by VOCs but that does not seem the case either. I think our home is just too sealed. Plants should help add needed oxygen and take in some of the CO2, and also look cool. :)
     
  11. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

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    You obviously over estimate the volume of CO2 an average house plant absorbs in a day.
    The average human exhales about 1 kg or 2.3 pounds of carbon dioxide on an average day.
    You can estimate the amount of CO2 absorbed by your plant by weighing their daily weight increment. The amount is pretty small, usually much less than 1 kg.
    If I remember correctly, here an average forest absorbs 0.2-0.5 kg of CO2 per square meter per year.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2022
  12. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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  13. 3catsandme

    3catsandme New Member

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    No no, I do realize that the plants alone are NOT going to solve all the problems, I know, but it should help, even if only a little. Like I said before, the easiest solution is buying a few plants and see the result if any, and then making adjustments from there. The size of the plant I need for my bedroom is going to be quite large, I know. I am aware this is not the total solution to the problem.

    Thank you for this article, this one article should be a wake up call to a lot of people. And it is just a few weeks ago! The author is Asian, so most likely she also knows that in most Asian households gas stoves are used because they can get to a higher temperature must faster than probably most electric stoves. And this is why gas stoves are so prevalent across Asia. Including my own home. There are two things I considered, one is that we use a gas stove, but like once a week only, and we open the kitchen window to vent. In addition gas stoves serve as a way of cooking if power goes out, which is going to become much more common in the near future even in first world countries as an energy shortage is already here, but this is a totally different topic.. Besides the stove, we have a tankless hot water heater that uses gas. So... In my complex alone there are 200 households, all using gas stoves and tankless water heaters, and now combine that with entire city of say 200,000 people in a very small area. Thus, this just makes the case even stronger to have indoor plants because opening windows may not relieve the situation. Everything is vented out, but of course depending on winds could just blow right back in. We do have gas leak sensors, and I bought a carbon monoxide sensor recently. The next time we cook, I will put the CO2 monitor in the kitchen and see just how bad it is.
     

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