Posted on by Paula Gallagher
One thing that has come out of this pandemic is that many people have become plant people... which is a good thing, as we are probably spending more time indoors than we have ever done before. Although the weather is warmer, many people still spend much of their time inside for numerous reasons – some because of work, others to escape the heat, and many in order to social distance.
The problem is that most people do not have the best indoor air quality. Having plants in your home is a great way to help detoxify indoor air from pollutants. Not only do plants brighten up a room, but certain ones can also help detoxify the air.
There are many indoor air pollutants which include, but are not limited to, some of these most common ones.
Indoor Air Pollutants
Found in particleboard, paper, carpets, foam insulation, plywood, grocery bags, waxed paper, fire retardants, natural gas and cigarette smoke. Formaldehyde is carcinogenic and can irritate our skin, eyes, nose and throat, causing itchiness, coughing and nosebleeds.
Found in varnishes, spot remover, inks, paints and adhesives. Trichloroethylene is a known carcinogen that, if inhaled, can irritate the nose and throat and harm the nervous system. Symptoms of exposure can include headaches, nausea, drowsiness and dizziness.
Found in paint, detergents, inks, plastics, dyes, synthetic fibers, vehicle exhaust, and emissions from gas-powered equipment and stored solvents. Benzene is classified as a carcinogen. At high exposure levels, it may cause dizziness, tremors, nausea and drowsiness. At lower chronic exposure levels, it has been linked to bone marrow damage and altered immune response.
Found in adhesives, floor coverings, paint, chipboard, cleaners, polishes, lubricants, tobacco smoke and running engines. Toluene has been shown to cause eye, nose and throat irritation, as well as adverse neurological effects such as problems with short-term memory and motor function.
Plants That Help Clean Indoor Air
There are many plants that are easy to take care of and can help with the quality of air in your home. Some of my favorites include:
1. Aloe vera
This is the famous healing plant that no home should be without. It’s great for treating minor cuts and sunburns and for ridding the air of formaldehyde. Grow aloe vera by a bright or sunny window in well-drained soil that’s kept slightly on the dry side. (Toxic for cats and dogs.)
2. English ivy
English ivy is an attractive climbing or trailing evergreen plant and prefers moisture in the air (or misting) and moist, well-drained soil in a partially sunny to shady location. The plant will help remove several toxins from the air, including toluene and benzene. (Toxic for cats and dogs.)
3. Spider plant
This plant offers maximum impact for minimum upkeep. It thrives in medium to light shade and moist air and doesn't require a green thumb to help it along. The spider plant cleans several toxins from the air, but is perhaps best known for decreasing carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide levels, as well as ethylbenzene and formaldehyde.
4. Peace lily
The peace lily blooms reliably well indoors with oval, white, papery spathes and leathery, glossy leaves. These plants prefer well-drained soil and filtered light with moderate to high humidity levels. The peace lily helps clear the air of many toxins, including benzene, trichloroethylene and more. (Toxic for cats and dogs.)
5. Boston fern
The Boston fern is a hardy, easy-to-grow evergreen plant. It prefers fairly rich, well-drained soil, moderate to high humidity with good air circulation and bright, filtered light. The Boston fern works well against formaldehyde; in fact, a recent study found ferns to be the most efficient class of plants for removing formaldehyde.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be aware that some plants are toxic to pets. Check out the ASPCA's excellent lists of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs and for cats, as well as their all-inclusive list of toxic and non-toxic plants for pets, with pictures of the plants.
Other Ways to Keep Your Air Clean
Along with plants, there are other many important ways to improve the air quality include:
- Vacuuming (with a HEPA filter) to help keep dust and particles out of the air
- Regular carpet and upholstery cleaning
- Maintaining a healthy humidity level in the home
- Having vents for the stove and using them when cooking
- Proper fresh air circulation
- Not idling cars or gas-powered devices near doors or windows.
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