Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Houseplants That Purify Air: Part 1

Air pollution is a concern in the home as much as at a busy, trafficked intersection. Indoors, our air is exposed to an array of chemicals, fumes, and some "volatile organic compounds" (VOCs) commonly released by solvents, paints, adhesives, and other innocuous household items that we use without knowing of their risks. Formaldehyde, used in paint, is a common culprit. These substances can be harmful to our health, and they can cause allergies, irritations, and respiratory problems, among others.

These houseplants, according to NASA, can purify the air of VCOs and other odors. Along with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, NASA conducted a study in the '80s that found that these specimens filter out harmful chemicals, which was especially useful in enclosed space facilities. Within the home, they work just as well. Look for these plants to improve the quality of air in your living spaces:

Aloe Vera
This hardy succulent can filter out formeldehyde and benzene. Benzene is commonly found in tobacco smoke and used in the production of plastics, resin, and synthetic fibers. Plant the aloe in well-drained soil, and place under plenty of sunlight, on a countertop or windowsill. The gel in its leaves can also be used to treat skin irritations and minor burns; it can be used to make soap or shampoo, to boot.

Gerber Daisy
With its bright and vivid blooms, this houseplant doubles as a pop of color within the home. It filters out benzene and trichloroethylene, which is used as an industrial solvent, and may be present in adhesives, paint and spot removers, and typewriter correction fluids. Keep the plant under bright light.

Spider Plant
Named after the spider due to its long, spindly, arching leaves, this plant comes in handy against formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, and xylene, which is found in leather and rubber. The rich mass of its foliage also make it ideal as a decorative plant, filling out blank, boring spaces in your home. Place under bright but indirect light, and water frequently.


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