Indoor House Plants You Can Use as an Air Purifier – Part 1

Indoor House Plants You Can Use as an Air Purifier There are lots of good reasons to have plants in your home or office. From an interior design perspective, they provide color and unique texture. From an emotional standpoint, they are another source of life. And from a healthcare outlook, they clean the air.

Of course, all plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. But some plants clean pollutants from the air.

Why is that Important? 

Indoor air pollutants can be so dangerous that the Environmental Protection Agency has coined a term – and, not surprisingly, an acronym – for it: “sick building syndrome” (SBS). They describe SBS as “situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.”

The symptoms can include headache; eye, nose, or throat irritation; dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; sensitivity to odors. Even if your home or office has relatively good indoor air quality, there are still plenty of reasons to have air-cleaning plants.

What Air Pollutants Exist Indoors? Where do they Come From?

Most chemical contaminants come from common items most all of us have in our homes or offices. They include: adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, manufactured wood products, copy machines, pesticides. Cleaning agents may also emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including formaldehyde.

You may be surprised at these specific chemical pollutants and their sources within your home or office. How many of these items do you have?

  • Formaldehyde – adhesives, drapes, fabrics, upholsteries, floor coverings, grocery bags, paints, stains, varnishes.
  • Benzene – adhesives, caulking, ceiling tiles, photocopiers, paints, stains, varnishes, wall coverings, tobacco smoke.
  • Trichlorethylene – photocopiers, printers.
  • Xylene and toluene – adhesives, caulking, printers, photocopiers, paints, stains, varnishes, wall coverings.
  • Ammonia – carpeting, cleaning products, photocopiers.

The power of plants to clean the air is so effective that in 1989, NASA collaborated with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America to produce the NASA Clean Air Study to find ways to clean air in space stations. The report includes a list of common house plants, several of which are noted below. It’s recommended to have at least one plant (in a 10 inch or 12 inch pot) per 100 square feet of home or office space for effective air cleaning.

Smart Options You Can Buy at Your Local Nursery

Common Name: Dwarf date palm
Scientific Name: Phoenix roebelenil
What pollutants it absorbs: formaldehyde, xylene and toluene

Common Name: Areca palm
Scientific Name: Dypsis lutescens
What pollutants it absorbs: xylene and toluene

Common Name: Boston fern
Scientific Name: Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’
What pollutants it absorbs: formaldehyde, xylene and toluene

For more information, you can review the NASA report on Wikipedia or read the book “Plants: Why You Can’t Live Without Them” by Bill Wolverton, published by Roli Books in 2010.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our list of air-purifying house plants.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hydro Mousse® Liquid Lawn® and a clickable link back to this page.

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