Vetiver or Chrysopogon zizanioides is a perennial grass adapted to the tropics and has existed under cultivation for centuries. The plant is known for its wonderful uses as it helps to stabilise soil and prevent soil erosion. It can also protect fields against pests and weeds. The oil extracted from its roots are used for cosmetics, aromatherapy, herbal skincare and ayurvedic soap.
Recently, Chennai-based Arul Srivastav, a Class VI student of Vana Vani Matriculation Higher Secondary School has designed an anti-pollution mask with the vetiver. This is because the grass also comes with air-purifying abilities that can be implemented to tackle air pollution.
Arul’s fondness for nature sprouted at a very young age when his grandfather began farming. He has always been intrigued with plants and spends his time researching any new plants he comes across. He soon became a part of the eco-club in his school and when the club entailed students to come up with ideas to tackle pollution, an inquisitive Arul’s mind started looking for ideas.
The vetiver grass was always used in his home as an addition to water or oil due to its medicinal properties. Arul decided to start researching it and discovered that it also had air purifying properties. When he learnt that curtains were being made out of the grass to keep a tab on the pollutants in the air, he began to wonder if the same methodology could be used to make a nose-mask.
His parents who have always been there to encourage him took him to the bamboo screen weavers and the family learnt how to weave the vetiver roots. It was wrapped using a soft net and Arul and his parents when to an automobile pollution testing centre to test the efficacy of the filter. There was a stark difference in the findings which motivated his parents to send the results to the National Innovation Foundation. Arul and his family were overjoyed when they received a letter from the NIF stating that Arul’s path-breaking innovation was accepted.