Indoor air can be hazardous to your health. But you can breathe easier with the help of your green friends: houseplants.
Common houseplants such as philodendron, peace lily, corn plant, Gerbera daisy, spider plant, golden pothos, English ivy, Marginata and others can pull chemicals from the air and break them down through their leaves, roots and soil.
Dr. Bill Wolverton, a retired NASA scientist, did extensive research with houseplants. Among his experiments, he placed potted plants inside sealed plexiglass chambers, then injected common household toxins into the chamber air. After 24 hours, he found that the plants had removed up to 87 percent of the toxins.
Here are some tips on how to use these natural air cleaners, courtesy of PLANET, the Professional Landcare Network:
Remove chemicals: The most commonly found indoor chemicals include formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. All of the houseplants tested by Wolverton worked hard to remove all of these chemicals but some were more effective against specific chemicals. Philodendron and spider plants removed the most formaldehyde. English ivy and Marginata (a common Dracaena) mitigated the largest amounts of benzene. Gerbera daisy and peace lily worked best in removing trichloroethylene.
Plant placement: One potted plant per 100 square feet of floor space can help clean the air in an average home or office. In commercial buildings, atriums of plants can help filter circulated air.
Watering: Mold is always a concern with indoor plants. Be sure not to overwater. Read plant instructions and check with your local plant professional if you have questions. Most houseplants need a small drink every week, then like to dry out.
Types of plants: Virtually every tropical indoor plant including many flowering plants are powerful removers of indoor air pollutants. A mix of plants may be the best strategy. For more tips or to find a plant care professional, click on PLANET's website, www.LandcareNetwork.org.
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