Most people have indoor plants around them in day-to-day life, whether it’s in the home or in the workplace. We know that plants provide us a valuable service by converting carbon dioxide to oxygen through the photosynthesis process, but plants can also help improve the general air quality in indoor environments by absorbing harmful gases and by improving the oxygen we breathe by literally cleaning the air around them. Not only are plants such as spider plants and bamboo beautiful, they work to keep us healthy every second they exist!
In the 80’s, NASA published a study that gives definitive proof that indoor plants have a positive effect on our indoor environment. It’s been gaining new attention in recent years due to an increased awareness of how to better improve our environment’s quality. Over a two year period NASA, along with Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA), studied the effects of different types of plants when brought indoors vs. having no plants at all.
The scientists found that ornamental plants help fight Sick Building Syndrome, which the EPA describes as, “…building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building.” The study evaluated around a dozen different types of plants and definitively found that they play an important role in air purification and revitalization by absorbing the pollutants in the air that can cause adverse effects on health. In fact, the study found that the indoor plants are so good at removing the toxins from the air that they made the decision to start sending plants into space to help keep astronauts’ air healthy and to provide them with an optimal life support environment.
WHAT ARE THESE DANGEROUS TOXINS?
You would think with modern technology and advances in architecture there would be better artificial environments developing right along with them however the opposite is actually true. Buildings are sealed-up more than ever and air quality becomes stagnant. Toxins build up in the building and have no way to escape. This is the air we breathe throughout the day as we work, throughout the night as we sleep.
HOW DO INDOOR PLANTS KEEP US SAFE?
According to factoidz.com there are many toxins found in buildings and homes such as “benzene, formaldehyde, acetone, carbon tetra chloride, chloroform, dichlorobenzene, ethyl acetate, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, trichloroethylene and xylene.” And these are just the most common of the more than 350 toxins found. We can help battle the effects of these pollutants simply by adorning our homes with these natural – and beautiful – air purifying systems. The best place to keep the plants are where we spend most of our time, in living areas and bedrooms.
The NASA study concluded that there were 15 plants that were most effective for removing indoor toxins and some of the plants are better than others for specific chemicals. For example, English Ivy, mums and daisies are extremely effective for removing benzene while bamboo palm and spider plants are great at removing formaldehyde.
THE FOLLOWING LIST CONTAINS PLANTS THAT CAN BE EASILY FOUND AT ALMOST ANY NURSERY:
1. Philodendron scandens `oxycardium’, heartleaf philodendron
2. Philodendron domesticum, elephant ear philodendron
3. Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana’, cornstalk dracaena
4. Hedera helix, English ivy
10. Spathiphyllum `Mauna Loa’, peace lily
11. Philodendron selloum, selloum philodendron
12. Aglaonema modestum, Chinese evergreen
13. Chamaedorea sefritzii, bamboo or reed palm
14. Sansevieria trifasciata, snake plant
15. Dracaena marginata , red-edged dracaena
Interestingly enough, houseplants have grown with our needs over the years and originated from tropical areas where they grew in dense populations under a canopy of other tropical plants. The species that thrive best in the home are now even more adaptable to an indoor environment and can easily live in low light areas due to their natural species’ qualities.
The evidence is clear: house plants equate better air, decreased pollutants and toxins and a better environment, so ornament your house as much as your heart desires!