The Cleaning of Indoor Air

Indoor air pollution is among the top five leading causes of illness and disease in this country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This pollution is composed of chemicals, toxic gases, hostile micro-organisms and particulates. For the past hundred years air purification has been in a holding pattern. Man had learned early on to trap particulates with filters. He had been less successful removing air borne microbes, and was totally unsuccessful in dealing with chemicals and toxic gases. Yet chemical pollution has only increased over the years, especially since building envelopes have become tighter so as to save on energy. Because of our inability to deal with airborne, chemical indoor pollution, buildings
have resorted to ventilation to get rid of pollution not trapped by filters. This has necessitated that the entire air supply within a building be removed every few hours and exchanged for outside air. This causes increased heating and cooling costs, since incoming air has to be heated or cooled, to bring it to a human comfort level. With the dramatic rise in energy costs over the past few years and with the increase of chemical pollution in outdoor air, ventilation is a poor solution to the problem of dealing with poor indoor air quality.

In the 1980’s NASA devised a system by which chemicals and many airborne toxic gases could be removed from indoor air, by inserting plants into the filter bed of an air purifier, whereupon the friendly microbes that congregate around the plant’s root system would digest chemicals, along with particulate matter, hostile microbes, gases and odors. Thus cutting down on the need for ventilation by as much as 83% and so saving on heating and cooling costs dramatically.

However, this system of air purification has gone basically unnoticed by the air purification market, because of its desire to sell oversized ventilating equipment systems and because it has come to rely on filter replacement sales as a lucrative source of income.

The diagram below shows a normal heating and air conditioning system for a building. Within this system the sole means of dealing with air pollution is with filters. Indoor air passes through these so as to remove particulates like dust. Remaining pollutants require ventilation.


The second set of diagrams below show various portable air cleaner filter types diagramair purifiers, and just like building system air purifiers, these rely almost entirely upon various filters which trap particulates, but do little to trap chemicals or gases. Some of these filters are of mesh or foam construction, while others have activated carbon to capture certain chemicals and odors, but the number of chemicals and gases captured are woefully small compared to the 80,000 chemicals the chemical industry produces each year. Further, like all filters, these activated carbon filters become saturated and need replacement, or they spew toxins back into the air. Plant air purifiers, on the other hand, trap pollutants in their filter bed, while microbes around the plant’s root system clean out the filter bed so replacement becomes unnecessary. Plus, the system has other mechanisms, such as wet scrubbers, to remove chemicals, or VOCs, as well.

air cleaner filter types diagram

PhytoFilter Technologies has furthered the research done at NASA and has patent pending technology which makes plant air purifiers more efficient, more user-friendly and allows such systems to be installed within parts of a building never used. Our technology provides all but a complete lock on plant air purification.

This newest form of air purification is completely natural and will result in a dramatic increase in the size of the indoor air purification market, causing it to grow exponentially in size, just like bottled water and organic farming have, simply because people do not want to ingest substances laden with chemicals, whether those chemicals be in water, food, or air.

This technology is not pie in the sky. It has been proven to be scientifically effective, both by NASA and through studies funded by the EPA and the New York State Energy and Research Authority. Plant air purification has been installed in a building on the Syracuse University campus and saved 26% a year on heating. It has been shown to give almost immediate relief to those who have asthma, allergies, or suffer from MCS, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. It gives consumers the personal choice, as to whether they will breathe, pure air.