By MC Milker
The Not Quite Crunchy Parent
Most of the attention recently has been, as it should be, on the big picture clean air issues: how pollutants impact our breathing air and how industry destroys some of our major sources of oxygen, the rain forests and seaweed beds.
However, as we move closer to home, an old and moldy NASA study, Foliage Plants for Removing Indoor Air Pollutants from Energy Efficient Homes, is recently receiving another look.
The accumulation of gaseous toxic substances in the air of poorly ventilated places has been known for many years but only in recent years recognized as a potential indoor health hazard….Owing to the ubiquitous and increasing use of resins and solvents in most materials found inside modern homes, indoor air pollutants such as formaldehyde have increased significantly over the past years. The adoption of energy saving proposals to reduce ventilation rates in homes has aggravated the problems of indoor air quality and increased potential health hazards
Great – eco friendly but unhealthy.
Fortunately nature provide an answer here too. House plants.
According to (the study) different plants remove assorted chemicals in different amounts (from the air). For instance, the common philodendron, spider plant, devil’s ivy, and Boston fern naturally remove formaldehyde from the air, and peace lilies, chrysanthemums, and gerbera daisies are said to filter out benzene and trichloroethylene. A few other hard workers include the bamboo palm, Chinese evergreen, Janet Craig dracaena, English ivy, snake plant, and rubber plant.
Based on the study results, one plant per 100 to 120 square feet of living space provides the air cleaning power necessarily to negate the effects of harmful toxins in the air. I suspect however that depends a lot of exactly what indoor air pollutants can be found in your home.
The EPA publishes a booklet on indoor air pollution and provides information and resources on indoor air pollution (and incidentally refutes the NASA study – there’s government for you!). But, it’s a good starting place.
The best method of determining your level of indoor air pollutants is to have a professional analysis conducted. Check for indoor air quality testing services in your neighborhood. Then remove offending materials and oh yes, grow lots of indoor plants.