Improve The Air Quality In Your Home With Indoor Plants
By Marilee Nelson |
It’s no secret that spending time outside is good for our mental and physical health. Surrounding yourself with nature can be therapeutic and is the perfect way to boost your mood. If you don’t live close to a park or have a backyard that you can forest bathe in, you can always bring nature inside! Besides the aforementioned health benefits and the fact that plants are gorgeous decor elements, they actually happen to be exceptional natural air purifiers that can filter volatile organic compounds out of the air we breathe.
What Are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?
When you smell a fragrant rose, a new car, fresh paint, air fresheners, perfume, cleaning products, or even new clothes you are inhaling volatile organic compounds or VOCs. While VOCs can come from both natural or synthetic sources, inhaling harmful VOCs can be detrimental to your health depending on the chemical makeup and the extent of the exposure. A buildup of VOCs from products with harmful chemicals that are found throughout our homes creates a low level chemical soup that can cause what is sometimes called Building Related Illness or Sick Building Syndrome. Some of the most common VOCs that you will encounter in your home are:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
VOCs in your home environment can cause a variety of health issues. Overexposure to formaldehyde for instance, which is used as a preservative in cosmetics, is in many building materials but is also emitted into the air through cigarette smoke can lead to irritation to your throat, mouth and nose, and even cancer. Benzene, which is common in many detergents and glues can cause headaches, drowsiness and irritation to your eyes. TCE, found in wood finishes, adhesives, and other consumer products affects the immune, reproductive and nervous system and can cause kidney cancer. High levels of ammonia in the air can be especially harmful for people who suffer from asthma, as it leads to breathing problems.
How Plants Can Help Us Breathe Cleaner Air
First, always remove the source of harmful VOCs as much as you are able. Toss products with harmful ingredients, replace with safe products, and include regular HEPA vacuuming and dusting to further reduce chemical exposures. Open windows in your house once or twice a day to ventilate and let fresh air into your home. These steps can dramatically improve the air quality in your home but you can amplify that upgrade by adding houseplants to your interior design! According to a NASA study indoor plants not only filter up to 90% of certain VOCs out of the air they also help solve the other significant pollutant in homes, excess carbon dioxide.
Decorate Your Home With Air Purifying Plants
To get the full benefits of your natural air purifiers, adding two plants per 100 square feet is a good rule of thumb. Plants instantly liven up any room regardless of its size and design. A touch of green will always improve a living space. Read more about how to pick the perfect plant for every room in your home.
Fresh, clean oxygenated air is important for a good night’s sleep. Even if your bedroom is on the smaller side, you can still add greenery to it. Succulents like aloe vera are perfect additions to your sleeping oasis. They fit on window sills or in bookshelves and can filter formaldehyde from building materials out of the air. You can even attach an air plant to the ceiling in a cute macrame plant hanger that adds depth to your space and provides you with plenty of fresh air while you’re sleeping.
Bathrooms can be tricky to decorate with plants. As long as you choose a plant that loves a humid environment, you should be able to reap the benefits of having a natural air purifier in this room. Snake plants are nearly impossible to kill and will most likely survive in a room where you forget to water your plants. For bathrooms with small windows or no natural light at all, peace lilies are amazing additions. This plant actually performed among the best in the NASA study, successfully removing large amounts of TCE, benzene and formaldehyde. Peace lilies thrive in a humid environment and don’t mind living in low light conditions. If you want to see your peace lily bloom, expose it to sunlight every once in a while.
Your living room is likely one of the biggest rooms in your home. If you want to fill an empty corner, a weeping fig or dragon tree are perfect decor elements. You can spruce your living space up by planting your new additions in different style and size planters that add an element of texture to your green corner. Both plants performed very well in the NASA study and will provide you with fresh air in your living space.
While herbs are the ultimate greenery to add to your kitchen, you can also decorate this room with plants that are better left uneaten. English ivy, as well as Chinese evergreen are pretty plants and amazing at filtering the air. In the NASA study, english ivy removed up to 90% of the benzene it was exposed to. The air in your kitchen can get quite dirty with all the smoke and grease that is emitted into the air when you cook, adding a few plants and regularly opening the windows can help reduce the VOC levels in the air.
In a space that requires your full attention, plants that require little are the perfect match. An Areca palm or spider plant will fit perfectly in your study room or work from home office. Besides providing you with fresh oxygen and clean air, plants have proven to boost our mood and reduce our stress level which should easily answer the question of whether you should add plants to your home office or not.
Plants are silent, green superheroes that deserve our gratitude and loving care for all they do. If you’re looking for the perfect plant that fits into your lifestyle, FTD has created a flowchart about air purifying indoor plants that you can check out.
Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.