Could Indoor Plants Be the Antidote to Interior Air Pollution?

Did you know that the United States Environmental Protection Agency ranks air pollution as one of the top threats to human health? The levels of indoor air pollutants may be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. In some extreme cases, these levels may be as high as 100 times greater.

Poor air quality may be a result of toxic agents trapped inside; these chemicals have been linked to health problems, including headaches, asthma, and chemical hypersensitivity. These potentially harmful agents include:

  • Benzene – found in paint, glue, fumes from automobiles
  • Trichloroethylene – found in paint remover and dry cleaning chemicals
  • Formaldehyde- found in foam insulation, paper products, permanent press fabric, paints and varnishes, particleboard

woman-in-office-with-indoor-plantsWhile air purifiers with HEPA filters are a common choice for purifying air, they cannot remove all pollutants. Wonderful alternatives to these costly purifiers are indoor plants. In a process similar to photosynthesis, plants remove toxic chemicals from the air, soil, and water by metabolizing the chemicals and then releasing a harmless byproduct into the air or incorporating the toxin into the plant’s tissue.

Many indoor air quality studies have been completed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, as they were particularly concerned with long-term travel in tightly sealed spaced capsules. In these capsules, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals are eventually release from the materials that are used to build the capsule itself, thus contaminating the air.

NASA’s concerns are not exclusive to the space program either – these harmful chemicals released by construction supplies may also pollute the air inside buildings. Energy efficient buildings that allow for limited airflow between indoor and outdoor air are especially at risk for these toxins.

This research suggests that having one plant per 100 square feet of indoor space offers optimal air cleaning rates. The following are great indoor plant suggestions to keep everyone breathing easily when indoors:

  • The Spider Plant has been proven to removed up to 96% of carbon monoxide and 99% of nitrogen from an indoor air supply in a recent study.
  • It has been proven that the Boston Fern eliminates traces of formaldehyde in the air and also acts as a natural humidifier.
  • The Peace Lily removed a variety of chemical vapors and alcohols, including benzene, ammonia, acetone, formaldehyde, and xylene. It is ranked among the highest testing plants for removing toxic chemicals.
  • Golden Pothos is another indoor plant that is effective in the removal of formaldehyde.

Are you looking to improve the air quality in your home or office? Contact us today for all of your indoor plant needs!