Indoor air quality is a top public health concern according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Toxic air often fills our homes and offices, thanks to ubiquitous vinyl flooring, carpeting, and wood finishes. Then there are air fresheners, paint, and upholstery.
All the above contain toxic chemicals or are made from them entirely. Even common office equipment, such as copiers and computers, can ooze toner dust and fumes into the air. As you can imagine, breathing these by-products isn’t exactly good for our bodies.
“Off-gassing” is the name for this unwanted chemical misting. Months or years can pass before off-gassing stops. In the case of printer toners and other consumables, off-gassing never stops.
Getting rid of these items is not always an option, unless you hunker down in a Waldenesque cabin in the woods. Nor is leaving the doors and windows open all the time, unless you like wearing a coat indoors (and breathing whatever comes in from the street).
The best alternative is to clean up the air. And the best way to do that is with the help of a few common houseplants.
Several types of plants can help clean and detoxify the air in your work or home. The following are recognized by environmental specialists and the EPA as beneficial:
• Aloe vera is known for soothing sun-reddened skin. But it’s also a wonderful air purifier. The aloe plant can absorb chemicals found in cleaning products and will actually develop brown spots if the chemicals reach a high level.
• The purple waffle plant has been shown to help remove the top five indoor air pollutants and is one of the best detoxifiers.
• The areca palm tree releases large amounts of oxygen during the day. NASA rates this plant 8th for removing formaldehyde, a chemical commonly found in carpeting. This amazing plant also humidifies dry winter air as well as an electric humidifier.
• The peace lily, like the areca palm, absorbs formaldehyde. Peace lily does a great job with chemicals found in plastics, paints, and adhesives. This plant needs watering only once a week and can live in bright sun or shade.
• Thick leaves on the rubber plant help to filter formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia from the air, though it does require a bit of TLC to really thrive.
• Mother-in-law’s tongue is sharp when it comes to cleaning the air, second only to the areca palm. It releases lots of oxygen at night, making it a great choice for the bedroom. Don’t have a green thumb? No problem – this plant can survive almost anything (just like its namesake).
• The golden pothos plant is a fast-growing vine that absorbs formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene.
• The money plant is a great all-around air purifier. According to the Chinese, it can also bring good fortune and health to its owner. Money plant can be toxic when ingested – definitely not lucky or healthful – so keep it away from children and pets.
• The spider plant has long skinny leaves that absorb many different toxins, as well as carbon dioxide.
Houseplants are a smart, affordable way to clean the air in your home or office. Plus, they’re beautiful and good for your soul. So pick up a few of your favorites and create healthier living and work spaces starting today!