Most interior designers will be the first to tell you that adding plants to an indoor living or working environment will greatly improve the dynamics and overall feel of the space.
On the one hand, it’s the added aesthetic effect.
What many people don’t realize is the powerful role plants can play in purifying the air and keeping us safe from various toxic indoor air pollutants.
Many of the items that populate homes and offices, such as furnishings, manufactured building materials, fabrics, and cleaning products can emit a variety of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
One of the most common VOCs, formaldehyde, is suspected to cause cancer in humans as well as trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions when found in high levels.
Coupled with the fact that indoor spaces can be poorly ventilated, the thought of living under these conditions can be nerve-wracking.
Fortunately, that’s where plants come to the rescue.
In the late 1980s, NASA and what was known at the time as the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied houseplants as a solution to purify the air in space facilities.
They discovered several plants that filter out common volatile organic compounds and began referring to them as “nature’s life support system.”
As these plants take in carbon dioxide, they are also at work absorbing harmful particles present in the air. Additionally, microorganisms present in the potting soil of these plants are also responsible for much of the purifying effect.
To get started with your collection of life-saving plants, here is a list of six in particular I recommend you begin populating your living and working spaces with…
#1 Garden Mum
NASA’s research found that the garden mum was one of the most effective plants when it came to keeping the air quality high. It works to remove some of the most prevalent culprits–ammonia, benzene, xylene, and formaldehyde.
#2 Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera plants can be thought of as a two-for-one deal–in addition to removing formaldehyde and benzene, the clear liquid in their leaves does wonders for other human body needs and ailments.
Known as the plant of immortality in ancient Egypt, aloe vera is made up of vitamins, amino acids, and other compounds that have wound-healing, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. The succulent is also easy to grow and requires little maintenance.
#3 Boston Fern
In addition to eliminating traces of formaldehyde, the Boston fern acts as a humidifier and can be useful in restoring moisture in the air. For those who suffer from dry skin and other cold weather problems, consider adopting this plant into your home.
Keep in mind that, though they are relatively easy to grow, they prefer to clean the air from a cool location with high humidity and indirect light.
#4 Spider Plant
If you’re just developing your green thumb, a spider plant might be a good starting place as they are one of the easiest houseplants to grow and are very resilient.
This plant battles benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene, a solvent used in the rubber, leather, and printing industries.
Spider plants are most nourished by cool-to-average home temperatures and prefer dry soil. Their shoots also produce flowers and plantlets that eventually grow into baby spider plants or spiderettes, enabling you to grow a whole family of these pollutant-fighting species.
#5 Bamboo Palm
Known to be a good formaldehyde filterer, bamboo palms flourish in full sun or bright light.
They also filter benzene, a known cancer-causing substance, and trichloroethylene, which has harmful effects on the nervous system, liver, respiratory system, kidneys, blood, immune system, heart, and body weight.
Since they can grow to be as tall as four to twelve feet high, they are able to filter more air. If you own pets and are worried about the toxicity of plants if ingested, you can rest easy–these palms are pet-friendly and nontoxic for both cats and dogs.
#6 Heart Leaf Philodendron
A type of climbing vine plant, the heart leaf philodendron is a miracle worker when it comes to removing all kinds of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). They are particularly good at targeting and getting rid of formaldehyde from sources like particleboard.
These philodendrons are low-maintenance and do best with indirect light. That said, they are toxic when eaten, so probably best to bypass them as an option if you have children or pets.
Studies have found that the average person spends more than 90% of their time inside, so it can be frightening to learn that indoor air pollutants have been ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health.
Knowing these facts, I recommend taking steps to protect yourself and prevent short- or long-term illnesses that can be brought about via these various pollutants.
A company called Home Lab makes and sells indoor air quality monitors that identify and track toxins and pollutant levels. If you’re curious about our home’s current levels, I advise you to check out Home Lab’s products.
Either way, in the interest of cleansing your home’s air and preventing pollutant levels to rise, make a point of visiting your local nursery or garden shop and populating your living and working spaces with these air-purifying plants as soon as possible!
Plants aren’t the only way to keep your indoor spaces toxin-free. How about looking into chemical-free cleaner recipes? Click here to read more.