Plants that Eliminate Indoor Air Pollution
Here’s something you probably don’t know: you and your loved ones are killing yourselves with every breath you take right now. How’s that?
It’s simple: if you are indoors in a well-insulated house, chances are that the air quality inside the house is worse than the quality of air outside your current four walls.
Unfortunately, many people don’t know this, resulting in many unnecessary health conditions that affect their quality of life.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average home has an indoor air quality that 3-5 times worse than outdoor air quality. Translation: your health is better assured by being outside more than inside right now.
So, unless you have the money to buy an expensive air filtration system, you might be best served staying outside, no? Not to worry though, there’s something that you can do about it without needing to shell out thousands of dollars.
How is this possible?
Through the use of select indoor air plants that are very effective at eliminating all forms of pollutants in your home, resulting in better and cleaner indoor air. This is known and referred to as Phytoremediation.
It’s the science of eliminating environmental pollution using plants. Multiple studies and research have shown that there are plants that can help clean up the air inside the house, office, building and property.
In fact, to show you how important this is, even NASA carried out the Clean Air Study to determine this in the late 1980’s. You can read more about the study here.
While the study was targeted at improving air quality in space stations (after all, it’s not like the astronauts can get out of their stations to take some fresh air in space), the results can be and have been applied to real world situations and the average building.
These plants are not only effective at producing more usable oxygen, but also absorbs carbon dioxide –standard plants practice- and removes excess indoor moisture which often causes high levels of humidity. But, it doesn’t just stop there.
They can also eliminate common indoor toxic substances such as radon, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, mold and pollen, asbestos, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, beryllium, arsenic, and benzene.
In case you don’t know how bad these substances are, here’s what they can do to you: Trichloroethylene, when present high concentrations can nausea, confusion poor coordination, dizziness, headaches, unconsciousness and death in extreme cases.
Formaldehyde is a well known carcinogen and has been linked to various types of cancer. Unfortunately, it is commonly used in cleaning agents. In small doses, victims will suffer eye, nose and throat irritation.
Higher levels of exposure may result in bronchitis, chest pains, wheezing, coughing, unconsciousness and even coma. Other symptoms include dizziness, skin irritations, seizures and cognitive impairment.
Carbon monoxide on the other hand, is called the silent killer because it’s odorless, colorless and tasteless. Three qualities that make it essentially non-detectable.
The easiest way to know if you have a carbon monoxide leakage in your home is to have a detector that will alert you whenever there’s a leakage in dangerous levels.
Exposure to this gas can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, weakness, confusion, respiratory distress in the form of shallow breathing, blurred vision, unconsciousness, brain damage and even death.
Prolonged exposure to radon puts you and your loved ones in danger of developing lung cancer.
Every year, 21,000 die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon, making it the second highest cause of lung cancer in the United States.
These are just some of the toxic indoor air pollutants that you’re probably breathing in as you read this.
The Best Plants for Eliminating Indoor Air Pollutants
Now that you know this, you have two choices:
- Buy a super expensive ventilation and air filtration system or
- Go the affordable route of finding a collection of plants that can either completely eliminate these pollutants or drastically lower their levels in your home, building, apartment or office, and place them indoors.
This is important because you may never be able to completely get rid of some of these substances.
More so, at lower levels, many of them have little or no side effects whatsoever. For instance, studies have shown that there’s a 60 percent decrease in lung cancer occurrence when people were exposed to lower levels of radon.
The following are some of the best indoor pollutants eliminating plants and the toxic agents they remove from your home:
Aloe Vera also known as the plant of immortality is a popular plant commonly found in many homes.
This multi-use plant is used by most people for decorative purposes, skin conditions like acne or skin rejuvenation, and applied to burns and cuts for soothing relief and faster healing.
Many however, aren’t aware of its indoor air pollution removal qualities. Yet, time and again, Aloe has proven to be effective at eliminating both benzene and formaldehyde. These agents are common byproducts of paints, cleaning chemicals and particle boards.
This is not just a modern day plant. It’s been in use for over six millennia for treating wounds, encouraging bowel movements and providing constipation relief. The indoor air pollution amelioration is a rather recent finding.
Every home can do with a pot of aloe plants placed in strategic places like the kitchen, window sills in rooms in the house and other parts of the house where it can get adequate sunlight.
The Spider Plant is well known for its tiny flowers, abundant leaves, low maintenance and ability to thrive with minimal watering.
This means that you don’t have to spend all day wondering if you’ve watered it and worrying if it’ll die.
The plant is tough and survives even with minimal attention. Anyway, this tough plant is known for its ability to clear some of the worst toxic agents you probably breathe in on a daily basis. These include formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and carbon monoxide.
Xylene is usually a byproduct of printing, rubber and leather materials. So, if you have any at home and they’re breaking down, chances are they are releasing these into the air.
It’s also one of the non-toxic plants that you can have in your home, so there’s no risk of poisoning the young ones or the pet if they ingest it.
With indirect sunlight, dry soil and the average room temperature, the plant will thrive and grow well.
Jade Plant aka Friendship Tree
In a manner similar to that of a good friendship, this tree helps eliminate some of the bad “influences” in the form of dangerous indoor air in your home.
Having the Jade plant in your home can help eliminate as much as 80 percent of some of the most hazardous indoor air pollutants.
It is particularly effective at eradicating xylenes, ethylbenzene, benzene and toluene. In fact, multiple studies showed that it is particularly effective at getting rid of toluene chemical agents, eliminating as much as 91 percent of the substance from the homes where they were placed.
Another anti-formaldehyde powerhouse, you cannot go wrong with this in your home. It’ll also remove xylene and benzene from your home.
For those who don’t know, these two are byproducts of gasoline and are usually funneled into the home when the garage is very close to the house.
So, for those of you with attached garages, there’s a higher risk of higher levels of benzene and xylene in your home.
That said, you should know that the Boston Fern is a “high maintenance” plant. You’ll need to water it frequently (sometimes daily) to keep it alive and flourishing. Bottom line, it thrives in high moisture environments with indirect sunlight.
Do not underestimate the seemingly small size of the Peace Lily. This does not affect its efficacy at removing pollutants like formaldehyde, ammonia, trichloroethylene, and benzene.
As a major formaldehyde removing plant, it also produces floral scents, making it an excellent room freshener too.
It typically thrives during the summer, but when properly taken care of, will often last into the winter, providing the much needed touch of summer and lightheartedness in the gloom of winter. Please note that these can blossom and spread pollen in the home.
So, people who are allergic to pollen might want to steer clear of this. It is also somewhat poisonous when ingested.
So, make sure to keep it away from places where the kids and pets can easily reach it. It thrives in indirect light and moist soils.
Gerbera Daisy aka gerber daisies
The Gerber daisy is a pretty little flowering plant that not only brings some aesthetic cheer into your home, it also eliminates formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, which are usually transferred into the home from the soaps and detergents used during laundry.
It needs consistent light –exposing it to sunlight for an average of six hours is sufficient- and a drained flower pot.
Excess moisture will probably do it more harm than good. You also need to wet the plants once or twice weekly to keep it fresh and green.
This is a fast growing plant that can help remove considerable amounts of formaldehyde from your home.
Also known as the Devil’s ivy, this plant doesn’t like excessive watering and is best placed in indirect light for faster growth and effectiveness.
Its high tolerance for neglect makes it perfect for the beginner gardener or individual who is too busy but wants to ensure that as much of the toxic indoor air is removed from the home. Please note that this is dangerous for children and pets when ingested.
So, do the smart thing and hang it in a bucket in a place that’s out of reach for the both of them. In fact, since it is pretty effective, why not just place it over the garage where it will absorb and breakdown the chemical agents.
Garden Mum aka Chrysanthemum
The Garden Mum is a cheap, beautiful plant that can brighten even the dullest rooms and inject some life in every room it’s placed. Even better is the fact that it can complement the colors in the room.
But, its effectiveness isn’t just limited to its aesthetic appeal. It’s not just some pretty bimbo without substance.
This simple looking but powerful flower that is effective at eliminating xylene, benzene, ammonia, and formaldehyde.
When they were used in the aforementioned NASA Clean Air Study, they were shown to be particularly effective at eradicating those four chemicals.
It needs a lot of sunlight to flourish and continue to eliminate those indoor pollutants. So, make sure it gets a lot of that as well as frequent watering.
Dracaena spp (Red-edged and Warneck)
The Red Dracaena and Warneck dracaena are two completely different plants. The former for instance is effective for the reducing the amounts of formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene and xylene.
The truth is that there are about forty different species of the Dracaena plant. But for the purposes of this guide, we’ll limit them to just two.
These slow growing plants can grow as high as 12-15 feet when placed in the right environment and conditions.
This is why we recommend that you keep them in rooms with high ceilings. You can easily identify the red Dracaena by the purple-red edges on the leaves.
The Warneckii on the other hand, requires less sun than the red Dracaena. One more thing, you should keep them away from children and pets as they are dangerous when ingested.
Ficus is also known as the Weeping Fig and can help eliminate formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene which are byproducts of furniture and carpeting materials.
Ficus thrives when exposed to indirect sunlight and grows best when the watering is intermittent (allow each watering regimen dry out reasonably before watering again). It does an excellent job of cleaning out the air and improving your indoor air quality.
Plants that Eliminate Indoor Air Pollution Summary
Some other plants you might want to check out include
- Snake Plants
- Chinese Evergreen
- Bamboo Palm
These four are thought of as excellent phytoremediation plants too.
By the way, please note that none of these pollutants harm the plants in any way; just in case you were wondering.
So, there you have it… an excellent guide to plants that will eliminate all forms of indoor air pollution.
Now, that you know what to do, it’s time to go get some of these plants and start working on improving your home’s indoor air quality.