With the cooler weather upon us, most of us will be putting on our storm windows and battening down the hatches at home. While that may bring nostalgic ideas of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and spending more time indoors, it also brings up a far more unpleasant topic: Indoor Air Pollution. Yuck!
On average, we spend 80-90% of our time inside buildings. And the air we breathe inside is often more polluted than the air outside! According to the American Lung Association, the air in our homes can contain molds, dust mites, pet dander, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from carpets and glues used in furniture and paints, viruses and bacteria.
What to do about it, you ask? Plug in an air freshener? NO! Most commercial air fresheners and wax-based candles only cover up the smell-- and they actually ADD to the VOCs and bad nasties that you're breathing in. Don't cover it up, clean it up-- with house plants.
Luckily for us, the smarties at NASA were way ahead of the game on this and they have provided a listing of the best plants to clean your air. These plants eat up all of the CO2 and other ugly things like benzene, formaldehyde and/or trichloroethylene. Plus, they give off fresh oxygen into the air. Here is the list that NASA came up with:
(These links will take you to the Wikipedia page where you can learn more about them and get pictures).
- English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Golden pothos or Devil's ivy (Scindapsus aures or Epipremnum aureum)
- Peace lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')
- Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
- Bamboo palm or reed palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
- Snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii')
- Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium, syn. Philodendron cordatum)
- Selloum philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum, syn. Philodendron selloum)
- Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)
- Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
- Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragans 'Massangeana')
- Janet Craig dracaena (Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig')
- Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis 'Warneckii')
- Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
- Gerbera Daisy or Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
- Pot Mum or Florist's Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)
- Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
There is also a very good book about house plants called "How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office," by B.C. Wolverton. You can check it out on Amazon.com here:
So ditch those air fresheners, get yourself some house plants and breathe better air this season!
Disclaimer: Some plants are poisonous to pets and kids, so do your homework before bringing them home-- the plants, that is.