Researchers have found that indoor air pollution is becoming one of the biggest threats to our health. Health issues include: asthma, allergies, chemical hypersensitivity, and cancer.
Houseplants were studied by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America as a way to purify the air in space facilities. A series of plants were located that are able to remove VOCs from the air. In addition to being able to clean the air outside on Earth, with plants we are able to clean the air indoors. On average, houseplants can remove 87% of air toxins within 24 hours.
The studies have since been published in journals such as the Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Science, which support the science.
Indoor plants improve air quality
Plants are the lungs of our planet, acting as an effective treatment and recycler of air and water as NASA used to improve astronauts’ health after spending months in a small space station surrounded by compounds that constantly emit chemicals into the cabin. Amazingly, however, was the discovery that plants can remove hundreds of chemicals found in the air of a spacecraft.
Plants and chemical pollution
NASA’s study proved that plants have some capacity to treat airborne chemicals. What happens to these chemicals? They exposed popular indoor plants to a common indoor air pollutant, formaldehyde, at the German National Research Centre for Environment and Health. According to them, enzymes within the plant’s leaves remove the toxic chemicals from the leaves, making them safe for use by the plant. The process seems to be analogous to that of a human liver that rids the body of toxins. Research has also shown that chemicals are translocated into the root system and the surrounding soil, where microorganisms can break them down even further.
Dust removal with plants
Health hazards indoors aren’t limited to airborne chemicals. A study by Washington State University suggests that plant foliage can get rid of up to 20% of indoor dust, so you don’t need a jungle to do it. Only around 5% of an office room’s volume was occupied by the plants.
Are plants responsible for biological pollution?
Growing fungi in the soil and on decaying plant matter can be a problem. However, assuming the plants are healthy, this is not the case. Plants possess their own defenses against microorganisms. They release small amounts of their own disinfectant essential oils that control or destroy bacteria and fungi that invade the space between the leaves. We ourselves employ this whenever we apply disinfectants or room deodorizers that contain natural plant oils from trees such as citrus or pine. Scientists have observed that indoor air is significantly cleaner after a room is re-planted with citrus trees. The air in a room became almost sterile after a lime tree pot was added.
Is high humidity caused by plants?
Increased humidity levels in the air are another cause for alarm. Yes, plants transpire, which adds water vapour into the air. Fortunately, the rate at which the humidity level increases depends on the starting humidity level in the room. On humid days, the rate of evaporation is extremely low, leading to a very low increase in humidity. Because the indoor air is frequently below the comfortable humidity threshold during the heating period, the plant ‘sweats’ heavily on dry days. This is to our benefit. With air conditioning, room humidity can also be reduced significantly. In addition to dehydration, dry air causes cracked skin and lips, the drying of mucus in lungs and sinuses, and is recognized as a trigger for asthma attacks. The dried-up defense mechanism makes it easy for allergens, bacteria, and viruses to enter the body. It is believed that colds are more common when the humidity is low.
The best indoor plants for improving air quality
When you improve the air quality of your / work space with house plats, you and your family benefit greatly from improved health. A lot of houseplants purify the air in your home, but some more than others. Here is a list of some of the best and most popular ones to have in your home or office:
- Aloe (Aloe vera)
- Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Gerber daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
- Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)
- Golden pothos (Scindapsus aures)
- Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)
- Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
- Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
- Azalea (Rhododendron simsii)
- English ivy (Hedera helix)
- Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’)
- Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema Crispum ‘Deborah’)
- Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
- Heart leaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium)
- Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
Those items can be added to the list indefinitely. Depending on the available sunlight, temperature, humidity, and nutrients, the growth of the plants depends on the rate at which they metabolize these substances.
However, plants do not eliminate the chemicals completely and different plants have different abilities. For instance, one plant may be able to reduce formaldehyde very effectively while another may handle benzene better.
Ninety percent of Americans spend their time indoors, which means that good indoor air quality is vital for good health. Indoor plants will cut down on pollutants and purify the air in your home or office. The more plants you have, the better you are going to feel! Having plants in your home or office creates a microclimate – the indoor weather.
Recommend number of plant
At least 15-18 good-sized plants (203mm (6-8 inches) pot diameter) for a house or apartment of 167 square meters (1800 square feet).
These plants were found effective in removing some indoor air pollutants according to the NASA study.
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