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Friday, November 28, 2014

Elizabeth Street

GROWING FRESH AIR WITH 8 POWERFUL HOUSEPLANTS

Jan 24, 2014

Growing Fresh Air With 8 Powerful Houseplants

This post was originally published on Healthy Child.

Did you realize the average American spends 90 percent of his time indoors? That’s a lot of time. Unbelievably, air pollution inside your home or office can be worse than the pollution outside, which is why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranks indoor air quality as one of the top five environmental risks to public health.

There are many things you can do to clean up the air in your home. First, stop buying products made with toxic chemicals that pollute your living space. Products like air fresheners, vinyl flooring, pressed wood made with formaldehyde, and harsh solvents fill your air with nasty chemicals that harm your health.

Ventilating your home by opening a window, even if it’s for just a few minutes a day, will improve your indoor air quality.

Also, placing common household plants in various rooms of your home is a way to grow fresh air!

Researcher Kamal Meattle discovered that three common houseplants, used strategically throughout a home, could vastly improve the indoor air quality.

Here’s the breakdown:

    • Areca Palm is “The Living Room Plant”
      This plant is a daytime oxygen factory and Meattle recommends having 4 shoulder height plants per person.
    • Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is “The Bedroom Plant” 
      This plant is an evening oxygen factory and Meattle recommends having 6-8 waist-high plants per person.
    • Money Plant is “The Specialist Plant” 
      This plant is the filter that removes formaldehyde and other volatile organic chemicals from the air.

These three household plants will certainly improve your indoor air quality, even if you don’t have quite so many. And, if you’re not satisfied with just three options, other new research has identified five “super ornamentals” that demonstrated high effectiveness of contaminant removal.

These include the purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternataa), English ivy (Hedera Helix), variegated wax plant (Hoya cornosa), Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus) and the Purple heart plant (Tradescantia pallida). [Remember to check all plants for toxicity to dogs and cats via the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

Of the 28 plants tested, these five were effective at reducing levels of a number of common household VOCs, including benzene, toluene, octane, alpha-pinene and TCE. The work, funded by the University of Georgia’s Agricultural Experiment Stations, was published in the August 2009 issue of HortScience.

Ready to grow your own fresh air? NASA studies recommend that you use one good-sized houseplant in a 6 to 8-inch diameter container for every 100 square feet of your home. Though, additional research is being done to identify exactly how many of each type of species is necessary for remediation (as in Meattle’s work). You should also be sure to keep the foliage clean and dust free (so the leaves can do their job). And, keep the top of soil clean and free of debris, as in some cases, that’s where the bulk of the filtering is taking place.

The healthier your plants, the more vigorously they’ll grow, and the better they’ll clean the air for you.

Are you concerned about indoor air quality? What steps have you taken to improve the air in your home or office?

By The Healthy Child Staff