Is the air within your home polluted? Here are 7 air purifying houseplants that will help.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a growing body of research suggests that the air within our homes may be more seriously polluted than the air outside of our homes, even in the largest cities. Yuck!
While just one source of pollution in a home may present a small risk, most homes have multiple sources of pollution. The cumulative effects of all of the pollutants can have serious, long-term effects on our health and that of our children.
The good news is that there are ways we can clean our air, including one simple, inexpensive one: incorporating houseplants that purify air naturally into our home environment.
Here’s a look at what causes indoor air pollution and which houseplants can help you the most.
What causes indoor air pollution?
If you’re thinking, “I don’t smoke, and I open the windows every now and then, so I am in good shape!” you may want to keep reading. While ventilation can in fact help, it does not solve the root of the problem: our homes contain multiple sources of pollutants that pose significant threats to our health.
Major contributors to our indoor air pollution include:
- Synthetic fabrics and carpets
- Household cleaning products
- Central heating and cooling systems
- Building materials and furnishings
- Scented candles and air fresheners
Major indoor air pollutants
So what pollutants are in our air inside of our homes? According to the EPA, the top 11 are:
- Radon, released by the earth and rock beneath the house, well water, and building materials
- Tobacco, from Tobacco smoke and products
- Biologicals, from wet or moist walls, poorly maintained humidifiers, and pets
- Carbon Monoxide, from leaky chimneys and furnaces, space heaters, and car exhaust in our garages
- Nitrogen Dioxide, from kerosene and unvented gas stoves and heaters
- Organic gases, released by household products and sprays, dry-cleaned clothes, and wood preservatives
- Respirable particles, from fireplaces, wood stoves, and environmental tobacco smoke
- Formaldehyde, from pressed wood products, drapes, and other textiles
- Pesticides, including those used on our lawns and to kill insects
- Asbestos, from deteriorating insulation, floor tiles, and fire proofing
- Lead, from lead-based paint and contaminated drinking water
Signs your home air may be polluted
Since you moved into or renovated your home, have you or a child:
- Developed asthma?
- Suffered from allergies?
- Have unexplained headaches, dizziness or nausea?
- Have a constant stuffy nose and sore throat at home, and feel better when you’re away?
- Discovered an odor you can’t get rid of?
If so, your home air may be polluted.
How houseplants can help purify indoor air
When NASA set out to find ways to clean the air in space stations, it found that several plants are effective at removing environmental toxins, such as formaldehyde (which studies show may cause cancer), benzene (which has been linked to leukemia) and ammonia (which irritates our eyes, nose and throat irritation) from the air.
Indoor plants clean the air in our homes the same way they clean the air outside: through a process called phytoremediation. Through this process, plants – both indoors and out – absorb gases through pores on the surface of their leaves. This leaves less of a burden on our noses and lungs, resulting in less of a chance of getting asthma, allergies and immuno-suppressed illnesses.
What are the best air purifying houseplants?
In the NASA study, Gerbera Daisies removed more micrograms of pollutants than any other plant. Extremely effective at removing Benzene from the air, the South African perennials like full- to semi-sun, so be sure to keep them near a window. Beautiful and easy to care for, Gerbera Daisies bloom all year long.
The runner-up to Gerbera Daisies in the NASA study, mums are inexpensive and can be found at most garden stores. They are great at removing ammonia, formaldehyde and benzene from the air in our homes.
The fern is one of the best houseplants for removing indoor air pollutants. Their feather-like leaves are well suited for hanging planters and are especially good at removing formaldehyde from the air. If you don’t have a green thumb, though, you may want to choose a less sensitive plant, as ferns require constant moisture and humidity.
Peace Lilies are great for people who live in small spaces or apartments, since they are on the smaller side and don’t require much sun. However, if you have a dog or cat, this is one you’ll want to avoid.
This low-maintenance houseplant requires bright, indirect sunlight, but little water. With the potential to grow up to 10 feet tall, the ficus or weeping fig plant can make for a beautiful, dramatic addition to any room, while sweeping it clean of benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.
We all know that the gel inside the Aloe Vera plant can help heal burns and cuts, but it is also pretty good at removing Benzene from our air. Although not as efficient as some of the other plants, the Aloe Vera plant does have a special ability to produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide at night, making it a great plant to keep in your bedroom.
Both the Bamboo and the Dwarf Date Palm are extremely effective at removing indoor air pollution. These can get tall and can be a striking addition to your den or living room.
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What do you think?
Do you have any of these houseplants in your home? Let us know in the comments below.