Clean the Air with House Plants

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Not only do plants and flowers around the house or office make the atmosphere more cheery, but plants actually improve indoor air quality by absorbing contaminants in the air.  A two-year study conducted by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) revealed the top house plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air.

Philodendron, spider plant, and golden pothos were labeled the most effective in removing formaldehyde molecules.  Flowering plants such as gerbera daisy (gerbera jamesonii) and chrysanthemum morifolium were rated superior in removing benzene.  The others that top the list are:

  • Bamboo Palm – Chamaedorea Seifritzii
  • Chinese Evergreen – Aglaonema Modestum
  • English Ivy – Hedera Helix
  • Janet Craig – Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’
  • Marginata – Dracaena Marginata
  • Mass cane/Corn Plant – Dracaena Massangeana
  • Mother-in-Law’s Tongue Sansevieria Laurentii
  • Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum
  • Warneckii – Dracaena ‘Warneckii’

Urea Formaldehyde is found in adhesive binders in particle board, pressed wood products (furniture, cabinetry), floor coverings, carpet backings and permanent-press clothes. It is used in consumer paper products which have been treated with UF resins, including grocery bags, waxed papers, facial tissues and paper towels. Many common household cleaning agents contain formaldehyde. UF resins are used as stiffeners, wrinkle resisters, water repellents, and fire retardants. Other sources of formaldehyde include heating and cooking fuels like natural gas, kerosene, and cigarette smoke.  It is an irritant to the eyes, nose, throat, skin, and causes headaches, asthma, and cancer.

Benzene is a very commonly used solvent and is also present in many common items including gasoline, inks, oils, paints, plastics, and rubber. It is used in the manufacture of detergents, explosives, pharmaceuticals, and dyes.  It is a skin and eye irritant and may be a contributing factor in chromosomal aberrations and leukemia in humans.  Acute inhalation of high levels of benzene has been reported to cause dizziness, weakness, euphoria, headache, nausea, blurred vision, respiratory diseases, tremors, irregular heartbeat, liver and kidney damage, paralysis, and unconsciousness.

By using natural and non-toxic products in the home and office, you’ll help maintain good indoor air quality and minimize associated health risks.

Taking proper care of your houseplants, and not overwatering (a common problem), will keep them healthy for years to come.

Source:  Zone 10

Tag(s): Greening the Home, Greening the Office, Hazardous Products / Health Issues


2 Responses to “Clean the Air with House Plants”

  1. Cary on June 29th, 2009 11:36 am

    I have three tall Dracaena Marginatas together in a 15″ pot. I wanted to get a ground covering for them, Creeping Fig was recommended to me. So I planted a couple, along with some nice stones. Now I’ve just read that Creeping Fig can be harmful to wood structures and am worried that it’ll hurt my Dracaena. They look really nice together, but if they’re not compatible, I’d like to get the vines out now before they really take root. Does anyone know if the vines will damage the larger plant?

  2. kedawheatstraw on November 19th, 2009 10:35 am

    dusty miller is a nice ground covering it’s white which gives a nice contrast.

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