You may not often think about the quality of the air you breathe indoors but it can be an important factor in a number of health conditions that could be affecting you or your family. The fact is, indoor air is frequently degraded by particulate matter, chemical compounds, and biological contaminants. Even if you clean your home or office frequently, some contaminants may still emanate from common indoor items such as carpets, cleaning agents, furniture made of processed wood, and the material in sofa sets. Some contaminants get into the building from the outside, through open spaces or through the HVAC system. In other words, indoor air contamination is almost inevitable in the modern environment.
The bad news is that the presence of toxic chemicals in the indoor air can lead to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) or Building-Related Illnesses. SBS refers to instances where occupants of a building experience discomfort or health problems which are linked to the building that they occupy.
What can be Done About it?
The good news is that there’s a simple, natural and cost-effective way to clean common toxic chemicals from the indoor air: Using houseplants! NASA, the American space agency, was looking for ways to clean indoor air in space stations. After conducting their research, NASA found that certain plants had superior air filtering properties, and they were highly effective in removing contaminants such as Xylene, Benzene, Trichloroethylene, Ammonia, and Formaldehyde from indoor air.
According to NASA, here are 10 houseplants that you can use to clean indoor air:
The spider plant (scientific name Chlorophytum Comosum “Vittatum”) is effective in removing xylene and formaldehyde from indoor air. It’s one of the easiest houseplants to grow and maintain. It’s more likely to flourish if it receives bright indirect light. It doesn’t require daily watering or too much care, and it doesn’t wither off easily.
The English ivy (Hedera helix) can remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from indoor air. It’s one disadvantage is that its toxic to pets. Its commonly used as an ornamental plant to cover walls on the outside of buildings, but you can easily grow it in a pot.
Weeping Fig/ Ficus
The weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) can be used to remove trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde from indoor air. When grown indoors, the ficus needs to be placed on a bright spot that receives indirect sunlight, and it needs frequent watering. A grown potted ficus can be anywhere between 2 and 10 feet.
The garden mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) can remove formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia from indoor air. It’s very common, and you can easily find it at your local gardening store. It produces beautiful yellow blossoms, so its ornamental. After the potted garden mum has finished blossoming, you can plant it outside the house.
There are over 40 varieties of Dracaena (scientific name Dracaena spp.), and they come in different shapes sizes, so you can easily find one that will look great within your space. Dracaena can remove xylene, formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene from indoor air. This plant, however, has one downside: Its toxic to dogs and cats. If you choose to put this plant in your home, keep it out of reach of pets and children.
The Boston fern (Nephrolepis exeltata v. Bostoniensis) can be used to remove xylene and formaldehyde from indoor air. This plant is fairly easy to grow, and it requires indirect sunlight. It needs to stay moist throughout, so you have to water it almost daily and completely soak it at least once every month.
This plant is famous for its many health benefits, but it can also be used to remove formaldehyde from indoor air. The plant can survive with minimal watering. It needs to be properly drained because it doesn’t do well in standing water.
Also known as “mother in law’s tongue”, the snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) can be used to remove xylene, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from indoor air. This plant can thrive under the driest conditions. You can place it under direct sunlight, and you only need to water it once in a while.
The peace lily (Spathiphyllum sp.) can extract ammonia, trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde from indoor air. It’s a fairly small, fragrant flowering plant that’s easy to grow and maintain. It flourishes in shady areas away from direct sunlight. If you grow the peace lily, try to maintain its soil moisture, but avoid excessive watering.
The bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifritzii) can remove trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde from indoor air. This plant can grow up to 12 feet indoors, so it can effectively purify large volumes of air. It should be grown under bright direct sunlight.