Did you know that the air around you in your home can sometimes be more toxic than the air outside? According to EPA.gov, the concentration of Volatile Organic Compounds (otherwise known as “VOCs”) can be up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors! VOCs are gases emitted from solid items or liquids and the mixture of chemicals may cause adverse reactions in most people (ie: vomiting, nausea, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, irritation and even cancer). Typical indoor items which emit gases are; paint, furniture, carpets, glue, cleaning products, office equipment and varnishes to name a few. When you think about it, we do spend most of our time inside – at work, at home, at shopping centres and in the car, which means we are all exposed to VOCs every single day.
There is a lot we can do to avoid VOCs… obviously spending more time outdoors taking in good quality fresh air (if possible away from traffic/pollution). You can use natural cleaning products and furniture in our house (don’t be shy – get in touch with us and we can even clean your house for you with our natural products!). You can open doors and windows frequently, weather permitting of course. Though another way of cleansing the air we breathe and minimise the effects on our health is by introducing natural sponges such as indoor plants!
Indoor plants can be great for assisting in eliminating air pollutants, counteracting off-gassing and contributing to balanced internal humidity. An added bonus is that they are natural, cheap, and are great for aesthetics as they look amazing with their glossy texture and vibrant colours. They’re also a great way to keep you grounded by taking care of them and keeping you in touch with nature.
Many years ago I lived in a 1 bedroom apartment in the Melbourne CBD for nearly 3 years with the inability to open windows (due to double glazing and location of the apartment). The only source of “air” was from a reverse cycle air-conditioner which was broken most of the time I lived there. In saying that though, even if I had the ability to open windows I can’t imagine I would have given I was located on the 2nd floor of one of the busiest streets in the city. A great way to help with cleansing the air naturally in my apartment was to introduce plants. I had a large open plan living room so I purchased 3 plants to cover the area: a bamboo palm, peace lily and a Dracaena Massangeana. No matter what I did, I could not kill those plants! I tried and tried and tried (unintentionally of course) by forgetting to water, hiding them in dark corners and use your imagination for my other killing methods. But they lived; in fact, they THRIVED in the toxic environment I provided.
So what are the best plants for cleansing household air? According to NASA, the top 10 plants most effective in removing common pollutants (including: Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Carbon Monoxide) from the air include:
1. Bamboo Palm
2. Chinese Evergreen
3. English Ivy
4. Gerbera Daisy
5. Peace Lily
6. Dracaena “Marginata”
7. Dracaena Massangeana
8. Snake Plant
9. Pot mum
10. Dracaena “Warneckii”
It is suggested that for approximately 10sqm of floor space with a 2.4m ceiling height, you should allow for one plant. It may mean that you require two or three plants in the average living room (approx. 25sqm) to assist with good air quality.
Just like in my tiny Melbourne apartment, most of the plants listed above will survive perfectly well with little or no direct sunlight, hence being chosen specifically for indoor use. You should be able to find them at your local nursery. And please keep plants away from children and pets just to be safe.
Now, go out and buy yourself a plant or two or three so you can start breathing easy. Just don’t forget to water them!
Main Image Source: UltimateChristoph.com