Houseplants Fight Air Pollution

EPA estimates that the average American home has 100 to 200 different air contaminants. Formaldehyde outgasses from plywood, carpeting, and cleaning products. Carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide seep out of gas appliances. Molds, fungi, and bacteria spew into the air from contaminated air conditions. Experts warn, levels of toxic irritants can run 100 times higher indoors than out-of-doors, where they can disperse more readily. This increases health risks since many of us spend 90 percent of our time indoors.

Common houseplants can enhance indoor air quality. Microorganisms living in potting soil use airborne toxins as a source of food. Plant roots absorb the waste produced by those microorganisms. The plant then returns cleaner air to your home. Research shows that some plants work better because their root systems prefer pollutants and use them as food faster than others. Virtually all of the plants involved have low-light requirements.

To increase effectiveness of plants, use a mixture of potting soil with activated charcoal concentrated at the bottom. Remove lower leaves of plants if they cover up the soil. Put plants near vents or in hallways where air circulates. To retard mold, don’t overwater and sprinkle ground grapefruit seeds on the soil or spay a dilution of grapefruit seed botanical extract on the soil (2 – 3 drops to one pint water and shake well). Or, place brewed Pau D’arco tea leaves on top of the soil. Any of the following plants will purify a 100 sq ft area: philodendron, spider plant, peace lily, golden pothos, palm (bamboo palm), corn plant (dracaena), snake plant, English ivy, gerbera daisy, and Boston fern.

This information was reproduced with the permission of Dr. Lieberman.

For more information written by Dr. Allan Lieberman please visit the home page of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Grow Your Own Air Cleaner

House plants have the ability to remove some toxins form the air, according to Dr. B. C. Wolverton of NASA's Stennis Center in Mississippi. He maintains that by using one plant for each 100 square feet you will be able to keep the air in your home fresher and free of common toxins.

Formaldehyde - major sources are: foam insulation, plywood, new clothes, new carpeting, furniture (pressed board, upholstery), paper goods, household cleaners.

Plants that can help: Philodendron, Spider Plant, Golden Pathos, Bamboo Plant, Corn Palm, Chrysanthemum, Mother-in-law's Tongue.

Benzene - found in tobacco smoke, gasoline, synthetic fibers, plastics, inks, oils, detergents.

Plants to use: English Ivy, Dracaena Marginata, Chrysanthemum, Gerbera Daisy, Wameckei, Peach Lily.

Trichloroethlene - exposure through: dry cleaning, inks, paints, varnishes, lacquers.

Good plants: Gerbera Daisy, Chrysanthemum, Peach Lily, Wamecki, Dracaena Marginata.

Note: Extremely salicylate-sensitive people could be adversely affected by handling some plants or by coming in contact with pollen they produce.