Keeping plants in the home or in the workplace has become a common practice nowadays. This is not a coincidence at all, as many people have become aware of the fact that plants provide valuable service by converting carbon dioxide to oxygen through the process known as photosynthesis. In addition to this, plants can also significantly improve indoor air quality by absorbing the harmful gases and by cleaning the air around them.
In 1989, NASA published a study which has shown that 18 plants have a positive effect on our indoor environment. This study has also determined all the toxins and pollutants that are present in the air we breathe. Due to the increased awareness of how to improve the quality of the air we breathe indoors, these plants have become even more popular in recent years. NASA partnered with Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) to study the effects of different plants when brought indoors vs. having no plants at all.
The results have found that ornamental plants help fight Sick Building Syndrome – which can be described as a “situation in which building occupants experience symptoms (such as headache, eye, nose, and throat irritation, fatigue, and nausea) that seem to be linked directly to the time spent in the building”. After examining different types of plants, the scientists discovered that they can purify the air by absorbing the pollutants that can cause serious damage to the health. As a matter of fact, they were so impressed by the ability of indoor plants to remove the toxins from the air that they made the decision to start sending plants into space to help keep the air of the astronauts healthy.
What’s in Our Air?
Many people believe that modern technology and advances in architecture help create a better artificial environment, but it turns out that the opposite is the truth. The buildings today are sealed-up more than ever before and the air is full of harmful chemicals. A huge amount of toxins accumulate in the building and have no way to escape. This is the air we breathe while working during the day and sleeping during the night.
Here are 5 toxins prevalent in our homes and workplaces, and the effects they have on our health:
- Benzene– Present in synthetic fibers, plastic, dyes, detergents, furniture wax, pesticides, rubber lubricants, tobacco smoke, glue, paint, and drugs. This chemical can cause headaches, dizziness, eye irritation, drowsiness, and an increase in heart rate.
- Ammonia– Found in fertilizers, scented salts, floor wax, and window cleaners. Some of the symptoms that can be caused by ammonia include eye and throat irritation.
- Formaldehyde– Present in synthetic fibers, waxed papers, paper bags, napkins, paper towels, and plywood paneling. It can cause irritation to nose, mouth, and throat, and can even lead to lung and larynx swelling in extreme cases.
- Trichloroethylene– Found in inks, varnishes, lacquers, paints, paint removers, and adhesives. Provokes a headache, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting,
- Xylene– Present in paint, printed materials, leather, tobacco smoke and vehicle exhaust. It can mouth and throat irritation, headache, dizziness, and can lead to liver and kidney damage.
NOTE: Keep in mind that these symptoms can be caused by short-term exposure to these toxins.
The Plants That Can Improve Indoor Air Quality!
We can easily reduce the negative effects of these harmful substances by adorning our homes with some air purifying plants. The NASA study concluded that 18 plants are highly effective in removing indoor toxins and some of the plants are better than others for specific chemicals. For example, English Ivy can help remove benzene while Bamboo Palm can filtrate the air of formaldehyde.
The best places to keep the plants are where we spend most of our time – at home (especially in the bedroom) and at work.
Here is the list of the best air-filtering plants and the pollutants they clean out.
- Florist’s chrysanthemum– filters all five pollutants.
- Barberton daisy– formaldehyde, xylene, and trichloroethylene
- Chinese evergreen– benzene and formaldehyde
- Devil’s ivy– benzene, xylene, and formaldehyde
- Peace lily– filters all five pollutants
- Variegated snake plant– benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and trichloroethylene
- Red-edged dracanea– benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and trichloroethylene
- Boston fern– xylene and formaldehyde
- Broadleaf lady palm– ammonia, formaldehyde, and xylene
- Flamingo lily– ammonia, formaldehyde, and xylene
- Kimberly queen fern– xylene and formaldehyde
- Spider plant– xylene and formaldehyde
- Cornstalk dracanea– benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene
- Dwarf date palm– xylene and formaldehyde
- Weeping fig– xylene and formaldehyde
- Bamboo palm– xylene and formaldehyde
- English ivy– benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and trichloroethylene
- Lilyturf– ammonia, trichloroethylene, and xylene