When you think of air pollution, you probably think of what’s going on outdoors. Cars put out exhaust; factories burn coal. You may not realize that indoor air pollution may be more harmful. That’s where houseplants come in.
If pollutants are present in indoor air, you are more likely to inhale them than if you’re outside. Homes, schools and office buildings don’t often have adequate ventilation, and impurities like smoke, chemicals and mold are breathed into your lungs.
What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?
Indoor air pollution is caused by many factors. One of the most observable is smoke. Smoke from cigarettes, candles incense or cooking can be inhaled and cause health problems.
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Chemicals from furniture glues, carpets and air fresheners can also collect in the air that you breathe.
According to the EPA, evidence of air pollution does not always show up in your body right away. Some immediate symptoms may include irritation, headache, fatigue or dizziness. However, the way a person reacts to pollutants differs depending on the individual’s sensitivity, medical history and other factors.
More research is needed to determine the long-term effects of poor air quality. However, experts say that repeated exposure to indoor air pollution can result in respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
Improving Indoor Air Quality
One of the ways to improve your indoor air quality is to maintain your HVAC system. If excess moisture or dust particles accumulate in your air vents, they can act as a breeding ground for pathogens. Those pathogens proceed to circulate throughout your house. Replacing your air filters frequently can help reduce indoor air pollution.
Plants can also act as air purifiers. Plants absorb toxins from the air and release more oxygen. Using plants to clean your air adds an element of nature into your space and cleans the atmosphere without using chemicals or electricity.
Best Plants for Clean Air
1. English Ivy
English ivy has dense foliage. All of this surface area provides space for absorbing toxins. This plant is excellent at removing formaldehyde from the air. According to This Old House, formaldehyde is the most common indoor air pollutant and can be found in carpet dyes and flooring resins.
English ivy grows well with little sunlight and in small spaces. This is an ideal houseplant if you prefer less upkeep or need an option for a bathroom or hallway.
2. Peace Lily
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This plant has beautiful, dark green leaves and hearty white flowers. It is particularly adept at absorbing benzene, a chemical released by paints, furniture finishes and polishes. It also helps remove acetone from the air. Acetone is released by some electronics, cleaners and glues.
The peace lily is quite forgiving. It must be watered weekly, but it doesn’t like to be overwatered. It can adapt to low light, but when it’s not doing well, the leaves may turn yellow and it may not flower.
3. Lady Palm
This delicate palm tree doesn’t take up much lateral space but can add height to the corner of a room. This plant absorbs ammonia, an irritant that is found in many cleaners, fabrics and dyes.
The lady palm does best when placed out of direct sunlight in environments where the temperature is kept between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The best way to water this plant is to wait until the soil is dry to a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Drench the soil until the water begins to come out of the drainage holes underneath the pot. After 30 minutes, empty out the saucer under the container so that the plant doesn’t reabsorb the water.
4. Snake Plant
A tall plant with a small footprint, the snake plant has a clean, dramatic look. It lowers the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, especially at night. During the dark hours, it also releases more oxygen, which makes it an ideal plant for a bedroom.
The snake plant may be one of the easiest to care for. It thrives in low light and tolerates drought. According to Gardening Know How, you shouldn’t water these plants too much. This characteristic is especially helpful for people who react to mold.
5. Golden Pothos
This vine has lime-colored leaves that grow quickly in almost any environment. It absorbs formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and benzene. This is an ideal plant to place in the entryway between the garage and the home, where it can absorb excess exhaust fumes from cars.
You can plant the golden pothos close to the ceiling so that it trails downward or train it to climb a trellis. It can be grown in water or soil and adapts to almost every environment. This is a perfect plant for an office or an area that doesn’t get much natural light.
Where to Place Plants for Clean Air
Rooms in which you spend more time or are more likely to release toxins into the air are prime areas for air-purifying plants. The kitchen is an ideal place to add plants to improve the indoor air quality. Living spaces are optimal areas in which to place plants because so many family members spend time there. Because your body heals while it sleeps, the bedroom is also a perfect location for air-cleaning plants.
Golden pothos and peace lily plants are poisonous if ingested. If you have pets or small children, place these plants out of reach.