According to the EPA (1) Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. This is problematic since indoor air tends to contain 2 to 5 times more pollutants than outdoor air.
You know that plants are great at boosting oxygen in your home, but did you know that certain plants can filter out harmful chemicals from the air? In this article, we will talk about the importance of having good indoor air quality, 3 air contaminates to be on the lookout for, and the best plants for improving the air quality in your home.
The Importance Of Good Air Quality
Stagnant indoor environments are one of the most dangerous places for human health. The lack of proper ventilation and purification of indoor air can be detrimental to your health and well-being.
In 1989, NASA did a study called the Clean Air Study. They researched the effects of living in a confined environment with limited exposure to fresh air. The research found that living and working in confined spaces with recycled air can lead to what is called “sick building syndrome” (2).
As a solution to this problem, NASA found that plants do an amazing job of improving the quality of air and scrubbing it of harmful chemicals and pollutants. In fact, plants do a better job of purifying air than most manmade machines, with minimal upkeep!
We should follow NASA’s solution to this problem: using house plants in our homes to filter and improve indoor air quality. This is especially important for rooms where you spend a large amount of time (such as your bedroom or office).
The Dangers Of Polluted Air In Your Home
There is a wide variety of toxic chemicals that are potentially present in every home. With age and improper ventilation, indoor air can be filled with pollutants that disrupt healthy lifestyles and feelings of well-being.
Two of the main pollutants to be aware of are formaldehyde and mold. We’ll detail the sources of both and how to look for them. If you want the list of the 7 best air purifying plants, skip to the bottom of the article.
One of the most harmful chemicals present in many homes is formaldehyde. It is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that is released in low levels over time by a variety of household products, including furniture and mattresses.
Formaldehyde is typically used to preserve dead bodies and you would probably recognize the smell of it as the liquid preservative in the jars that contain animal bodies in your High School science class.
This substance is very likely to cause health problems in humans and animals. It can accumulate in the environments of our homes unless action is taken to eliminate this poison.
Sources of Formaldehyde in Your Home
Unfortunately, formaldehyde can be released from multiple sources that you likely haven’t considered as dangerous.
Sources of formaldehyde in our homes include:
The governments around the world have tried to regulate the amount of formaldehyde used in the building of insulated products and furniture. This has helped to reduce the overall amount of formaldehyde-laden products, but be aware that older household products will most likely contain formaldehyde.
Along with placing plants in your house, another great option is to air out your furniture (or whatever the object is) before you bring it into your home.
In addition to formaldehyde, mold is another major toxin to be aware of in your home environment.
Mold is often present in the structures of houses if a home was built in a moist environment (i.e. during a rainy season) or if it has been damaged by water in the past. Mold growth is often unnoticeable and also makes exposure very dangerous to your health.
Do you seem to get an increase in respiratory problems after it rains? This may indicate that there is a problem with mold overgrowth in your home. You may not see it, but the spores are present in the air, floating around as you breathe them in.
Factors that can increase a building’s risk for mold overgrowth include high environmental humidity, poor ventilation, and/or water damage.
Effects Of Mold On Your Health
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), mold spores in the air can show up as several health effects in your body (3):
The musty smell of mold is an tell-tale sign that you have mold overgrowth in your home, but it is possible that you can’t identify it yourself because you have gotten used to the smell. If you suspect mold overgrowth, try inviting a friend over and asking them if they can smell the suspected areas of your home.
In the case of a mold outbreak, professional mold removers are very adept at eradicating mold. Otherwise, for smaller problems, some of the plants listed below can be beneficial.
Harsh Chemical Cleaners
Household cleaners can poison the air if it is not properly ventilated. Indoor use of pesticides, cleansers, paints, and air fresheners (including candles and incense) can release toxins into the air of your home.
Some more examples of indoor poisons that indoor plants can purify in your home include:
Household chemicals are not easy to get rid of and that is why so many health experts stress the importance of purifying the air in your home as well as looking for natural cleaning products.
The Best Plants for Purifying Indoor Air
Your home is circulating with airborne toxins that are undetectable to the senses. Thankfully, you have some vegetative friends that have the ability to absorb environmental pollutants and trap them in their cells.
Plants will also be able to lower toxic carbon levels in the air and replace them with oxygen, which we need an abundance of to survive with optimal health and well-being.
Below is a list of the 7 best plants for purifying the air in your home.
The peace lily has gorgeous seashell flowers that will bring a sense of summer back to any dreary room. This flower is a common favorite of the house plants that filter air for homes that need it.
The peace lily is great at removing formaldehyde, benzene, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air of your home.
Peace lilies prefer low-light conditions and will bloom in the shade during the beginning of spring. In the dark, it will quickly oxygenate the air through cellular respiration. However, be cautious because these leaves can be harmful to pets if consumed.
Palm trees are very good at removing formaldehyde. The Dwarf Date Palm is likely the best for purifying the air at a fast rate. Although this palm will remind you of warm weather, it prefers cool temperatures. It is ideal for use in a greenhouse or garage, but you will quickly notice a difference in air quality if you add them to one of the rooms in your home.
The palm tree prefers a decent amount of sunlight, so you should put one near a bright window or even outside your front door if there is no spot for them inside.
This succulent is easy to care for and makes some serious health claims. It quickly absorbs formaldehyde, benzene, and other chemicals from the air. The gel inside the leaves is full of vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes that can have healing effects on our bodies (it is very soothing on sunburned skin).
Aloe prefers a nice sunny window spot with an abundance of water in its soil. They are great because while their leaves are alive, they purify the air in your home, but you can also cut them and extract their juices for external or internal health benefits.
This plant is among the easiest houseplants to grow in your home. This makes spider plants a great choice for beginners or forgetful owners.
They effectively absorb formaldehyde and xylene from the air.
Spider plants love bright, indirect sunlight and will send out shoots that grow into baby spiderettes towards the light. They can be hung from a ceiling or be planted in a pot and placed on a window sill
There are many different strains of dracaena plants found around the regions of the world, which makes it easy to find one that matches the style of your room. They are common foliage plants with long, wide leaves that vary with lines of white, red, or cream.
They help to remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air in your home.
Make sure that your pets do not eat them because they can be poisonous, just like the peace lily. Dracaena makes for quick purification of a wide range of airborne toxins while adding to the aesthetic value of any room’s style.
Mums are beautiful flowers that can purify the air in your room very effectively. You can find them during the spring time at local nurseries, grocery stores, or flower shops.
They offer great health benefits to your home by filtering out benzene and household chemicals. Mums also efficiently absorb carbon dioxide and release significant amounts of oxygen into the air.
These flower friends prefer direct sunlight and work well in hanging pots as well as potted plants placed on hard surfaces. Be cautious that some people can be potentially allergic to the small amount of pollen that the chrysanthemum’s flowers produce.
This fern loves a nice humid spot with a decent amount of moisture. It actively purifies the air of formaldehyde, benzene, and other chemicals while moisturizing the air.
They are easy to grow but need consistent watering and indirect light. The perfect spot for Boston ferns would be near the side of a bright window or outside your front door that is protected by an overhead. Ferns are also great for those who suffer from dry skin. Plus, they add layers of green gorgeousness to any home.
Add these natural plants to your house and start reaping the benefits of higher quality indoor air. It will go a long way towards decreasing your risk for respiratory health issues.