During the victorian era houseplants were the rage as well as in the 70's. Houseplants have now moved their way back to the top of list in the home again. This time not for the purpose of home decor, but for being a green way to clean the air and improve our health by taking out toxic contaminants we are exposed to in our environments.
When I was growing up we did not have air conditioning, so our windows were always opened and in the winter the form of insulation in my grandparents old farm house was old rags stuffed in the windows, in the cracks of the floor and under the doors. It seems like we were a little more healthier then from that 'ventilation' and I have often wondered how we live today with all the manufactured products made with so many chemicals in our tightly insulated homes if it affects our health. As a mom that raised a asthmatic child, I wished I had known then that using common houseplants could help eliminate some common toxins from the home.
The EPA and NASA have done numerous studies showing measurable levels of over 107 known carcinogens in our homes and offices. The presence of these volitile organic compounds are from the switch of open windows to tightly closed energy efficient environments. In new buildings or homes where these carcinogens are found is often referred to as sick building syndrome. I have known many people to become ill from the smell of new carpeting, paint, adhesives, etc. Many times I have gone into new buildings and my eyes start to burn or I can feel my throat burn.
The NASA research suggest that by including indoor house and office plants, one may reduce the amount of exposure to common volitile organic compounds. Most research shows you need at least 10 to 15 plants in the size range of 4" to 6" pots for approximately 1500 square feet.
Plants take subtances out of the air through the tiny openings in their leaves. Some research shows that plant leaves, roots and soil bacteria are all as well important in removing trace levels of toxic vapors.
Common toxins in the air are Trichloroethylene (TCE), Benzene, and Formaldehyde.
TCE is commonly used in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, and adhesives.
Bezene is present in gasoline, inks, oils, paints, plastics, and rubber. It is also used to manufacture detergents, explosives, pharmaceuticals, and dyes. Benzene has long been know to irritate the skin and eyes. Repeated contact with bezene will cause drying, inflammation, blistering and dermatitis. Inhaling high levels of bezene has been reported to cause problems such as dizziness, headaches, tremors, weakness, nausea, and many other symptoms.
Formaldehyde is a chemical found in about all indoor environments. The source in in urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) and particle board/pressed wood products that are used today in making funiture. Also, it is found in paper products that have been treated with UF resins such as grocery bags, waxed papers, facial tissues and paper towels. Many floor coverings and carpet backings also contain formaldehyde. Formaldehyde can irritate the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat. The most serious diseases attributed to formaldehyde exposure is asthma.
The top 10 plants most effective in removing the above listed toxins are as follows:
Bamboo palm, Chinese Evergreen, English Ivy, Gerbera Daisy, Janet Craig, Marginata, Mass Cane/Corn Plant, Mother-in-Laws Tongue, Pot Mum, Peace Lily, Dracaena 'Warneckii'.
Philodendron, Spider Plant and Golden Pothos were labled the most effective in removing formaldehyde molecules. Flowering plants such as Gerbera Daisy and Chrysanthemums were rated superior in removing bezene from the atmosphere. Also performing well were Dracaena Massangeana, Spathiphyllum (peace lily), and Golden Phothos.
I have a 'PASSION' for plants and I am so amazed by their uses from providing food sources to giving us just plain pleasure. I starting thinking about all the uses for plants and came up with over 30 just off the top of my head. I have read through the years that some people believe that the cure of cancer lies in a emzyme from a toxic weed to kill cancer cells. Would that not be great if it was so. If I was a little younger and smarter I would love to go back to college, get a degree and work in a lab to study the benefits that plants have in the human body.
I do think if more of us did use plants in our home, office, or classroom we could greatly improve the quality of air by creating an environment where people will feel and perform better. Plants bring happiness and good health, so go buy some houseplants and put some 'green air' freshner in your house today.