Thursday, April 24, 2014

Guest post- Improve Your Indoor Air Quality With Plants!

This article is provided by Andrea Vollf.

Spring is around the corner and for many of us, it will be allergy season. Although many allergies are pollen related, we still have several chemicals that can trigger allergies in a person, including but not limited to: ammonia, chlorine, formaldehyde, and benzene, to name a few. If you have been in a situation where as soon as you step outside your home you stop sneezing or your headache goes away, you should consider taking a closer look at the things you have been bringing home, as the indoor air quality (IAQ) of your home might be very poor.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the indoor air quality levels of a typical American home can be over 100 times more polluted than the outdoor levels and, while you can eliminate a large amount of chemicals from your home simply by adopting a green cleaning policy in your home, there are still items in your home such as carpet or insulation that will continue off-gassing toxins even years after its installation. 

Thankfully, in the the late 80’s, a study performed by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) revealed that certain species of plants can actually convert common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into oxygen. Since such discovery, many individuals have been incorporating some of those species into their home décor.

Besides softening empty corners in your house those plants will also help you to breathe a cleaner air since they will be filtering some of the toxins out of your home. Below is a list of some of the plants that will help you to improve the IAQ of your home courtesy of Controlled Comfort:

Aloe (Aloe vera) – Easy-to-grow, this sun-loving succulent helps to filter both formaldehyde and benzene, ingredients typically found on cleaners, paints, and certain adhesives. Aloe is the perfect choice for a sunny kitchen window. Besides its air-clearing abilities, the gel inside an aloe plant can help to heal cuts and minor burns.

Azalea (Rhododendron simsii) – One of my favorite flowering shrubs for cold climate homes and basements as this plant performs great around 60-65 degrees. Bring it indoors to filter formaldehyde from sources like plywood or foam insulation.

Bamboo or Reed palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii) – This small palm blooms in shaded indoor spaces, often producing red-orange flowers and small berries while filtering out benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde.

Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema Crispum 'Deborah') – Easy to maintain, this evergreen filters out a variety of air pollutants and it will begin to remove more toxins as time and exposure continues.

Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)  Besides bringing a beautiful gamma of colors during Fall, this mum’s flowers will filter out benzene, a substance normally found in glue, paint, plastics and detergent.  [Note: chrysanthemum loves bright light. Therefore, in order for the buds to open, this plant needs to be placed near an open window with direct sunlight. 

Golden pothos (Scindapsus aures) – Also known as devil’s ivy, this plant is ideal for filtering out formaldehyde. Perfect for garages, as the car exhaust is filled with formaldehyde, and this plant stays green even when kept in the dark.

Peace lily (Spathiphyllum) – Shade and weekly watering are all the peace lily needs to survive and produce blooms. One of NASA’s favorite for filtering out all three of most common VOCs — formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. It can also be used to remove toluene and xylene.

Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata) – great option to filter out xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde, typically found in lacquers, varnishes and gasoline.

Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii') – Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, the snake plant filters out formaldehyde and it is the perfect choice for bathrooms as such specie performs better when exposed to low light and steamy humid conditions.

Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) – If you have carpet in your home you should look for this plant as it will help to remove the pollutants typically found in carpeting and furniture such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene.

Before you start this year's shopping spree, stop by your local nursery and pick up a few plants to improve your home's IAQ. You will love the results!

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