Breath Plant Air, Improve Indoor Air Quality

August 18, 2008
Ivy on the Baker's Rack

Ivy on the Baker

With the Olympics in full swing, there is a lot of attention to outdoor air quality, and pollution. But, have you considered INDOOR air quality, what you are breathing 24/7?

Indoor air pollution is caused by toxins people bring in with household cleaning products, furniture, carpet, or clothes they buy, and the paint they put on the walls. Solvents and glues also contain harmful chemicals that can off gas into homes. The worst pollutants are radon, mold, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Radon can build up under a house and seep in through a crack in the foundation. Mold occurs any time water is present long enough to allow mold to grow, and spread. VOCs are in paint, and some furniture, mattresses, carpets, and building materials. These compounds concentrate in the home because so many houses are airtight, thus not allowing the chemicals to escape or fresh air to come in. One of the best ways to improve indoor air quality is to open the windows and air out the house. However, there is another answer.

Houseplants. NASA has conducted a study showing ordinary houseplants do a great job removing many of these harmful chemicals from the air. Their top ten recommended plants include four dracaenas, ivy, palm, and an evergreen among others. A different top list includes palms, ivy, fern, and a peace lily. While some plants are better than others at keeping your air clean, I think the most important point is to have plants in your home.

The plants pull the chemicals out of the air and store them in the leaf, stem, root or soil. Plants give off oxygen which improved the overall air quality of the home. Some plants have an added benefit of giving off a pleasant sent which makes a house smell fresh, and pleasant.

In my house, I have several aloe plants, a dill, and two kinds of ivy. In addition to the cleaner air, I like my dill plant because I can add fresh dill to my cooking when the recipe calls for it. Herbs can serve a two fold purpose in this way, cleaner air and tastier meals. My goal is to add more herbs to my indoor plant collection. I expect they will add aroma and beauty to my kitchen. Plus, I like plants I can eat.

I hope to grow some indoor flowers as well. Something small and tough so that I will have bursts of color at different points of the year. I’m thinking some pansies, impatients, dianthus and maybe a cosmos or two.

What is your favorite indoor plant?

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