Top 9 Air Purifying Plants

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Plants purify air, making them part of what NASA calls “nature’s life support system.” Adding potted plants to a room has been shown to reduce the amount of air particulates (although plants in bloom may be contributing their own compounds to the air).

Beyond air quality, plants just make people feel better. For example, hospital patients with plants in their rooms were more positive and had lower blood pressure and stress levels. Similarly, indoor plants may make people smarter by allowing them to stay alert and reducing mental fatigue.

A 15 year study at a New Delhi office building, with 300 occupants and over 1200 plants inside, has discovered that eye irritation, respiratory problems, headaches and asthma were significantly reduced after air purifying plants have been placed indoors. The study showed also that productivity has increased with over 20% and energy consumption was reduced with 15%. Of course 1200 plants seem like a lot but that is only 4 plants per person meaning even with just a few plants in our home we can have amazing health benefits.

Although houseplants may be intimidating, especially if you are often away from home like myself, it turns out that there are many plants easy to care for, so easy, in fact, you’d have to try pretty hard to kill them.

Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum

In the NASA research, this flower was the highest ranked air-purifying plant. I use these plants in my bedroom, as you can see in the picture above, not only for the air quality but also because they are lovely to look at when I wake up.

Removes
ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene

Requires
Temperature
Chrysanthemums can tolerate a large range of temperature, but they are happiest with a constant temperature in the range of 18-22° Celsius (65-70° degrees F).
Location
Avoid placing your chrysanthemum in direct sunlight or deep shadows. A location in a nice bright room is ideal. A minimum of 12 hours of light daily will greatly increase the longevity of your potted mum.
Watering
Chrysanthemums require a good amount of water to maintain optimum health. When the ground around the plant is dry, or you see leaves begin to drop slightly it is a good sign that you should water them.

General watering advice:
Make sure to never allow your pot to sit in a container of water. Unfortunately I did not follow this advice the first time I planted them and I found out the hard way that this is one of the quickest ways to destroy your roots. Once the roots are gone, the top of the plant will soon follow.
Use room temperature water and try to use rainwater. If you use tap water allow it to stand for at least 48 hours to dissipate chlorine and fluorides.

Dracaena
Dracaena

There are more than 40 different kinds of Dracena, making it easy to find one that’s a perfect fit for your home. Pet owners might want to select a different plant, however, as these are toxic to cats and dogs.

Removes
benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene

Requires
Temperature
Normal house temperatures between 18-22° Celsius (60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit) are ideal, with nighttime temperatures about 10 degrees cooler.
Location
Dracaena tolerates low light and some varieties are more tolerant than others. However, dracaena grows faster and develops thicker, healthier foliage in bright, indirect light. Avoid direct, unfiltered sunlight which may cause brown, scorched spots on the leaves.
Watering
Dracaena is a relatively drought-tolerant plant, that means lower maintenance for you. You should water only when the soil feels slightly dry.

Snake Plant / Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
snake plant

This is one of the hardest houseplants to kill.

Removes
benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene

Requires
Temperature
Can tolerate temperatures between 5 to 30° Celsius (40 and 85° degrees Fahrenheit).
Location
Snake plant loves to be in the sun so the best place for them is close to the window. However if you have a south facing window place the snake plant one meter away from the window. Turn the pot every quarter so that all the leaves get enough sun.
Watering
Snake plant is also a relatively drought-tolerant plant. You should water only when the soil feels
dry. Water very little in cold or air conditioned rooms.

Spider Plant
spider plant

Spider plants, like snake plants, are among the easiest houseplants to grow, making them a great choice for beginners or forgetful owners, like myself.

Removes
formaldehyde and xylene

Requires
Temperature
Can tolerate temperatures between 5 to 30° Celsius (40 and 85° degrees Fahrenheit).
Location
Spider plants grow best in direct sun light. Place them in a East West or North facing window any time of year. Place them in a south facing window Only during winter. Turn the pot every quarter so that all the leaves get enough sun.
Watering
Spider plant is also a relatively drought-tolerant plant. You should water only when the soil feels dry.

Ficus / Weeping Fig
Ficus

Removes
benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene

Requires
Temperature
Normal house temperatures between 18-22° Celsius (60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit) are ideal, with nighttime temperatures about 10 degrees cooler.
Location
Ficus grow best in a location with full light, ideally 12-13 hours of sun every day. If you can’t get enough light consider purchasing a plant light.
Watering
Water thoroughly and then wait for the top 5 cm (2 inches) to dry before next watering. Check the humidity in the soil with your fingers.

Peace Lily
lily

Easy to grow, these plants will flower for much of the summer. Just be aware that those flowers (like all flowers) do contribute some pollen and floral scents to the air, so you may want to avoid having a room full of them.

Removes
ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene

Requires
Temperature
Ideally placed in a warm room. Try to avoid exposure to cold air (air conditioning unit)
Location
The peace lily should be placed in indirect light, close but not directly under a window.
Watering
Aim to water when the potted soil is dry. Too much water can cause root rot so aim to water about once a week.

Boston Fern
boston fern

I remember that my grandmother’s well was full of ferns, because these plants prefer a cool location with very high humidity levels.

Removes
formaldehyde and xylene

Requires
Temperature
Ideally placed in a cool place, as it doesn’t like warm temperatures.
Location
The Boston Fern prefers a place with indirect sunlight and high humidity. (Bathroom or kitchen)
Watering
They need plenty of water so anytime the soil feels even remotely dry, water them.

Bamboo Palm
Bamboo

One of the best plants at filtering formaldehyde. Part of the reason they can filter so much air is that they can grow to be pretty big.

Removes
benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene

Requires
Temperature
Normal house temperatures between 18-22° Celsius (60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit) are ideal.
Location
Most types of bamboo will thrive in bright indirect light. The bamboo palm however will grow also in low light conditions, making it perfect for northern areas were sun light is scarce during winter.
Watering
Water the plant when the soil surface feels dry. Make sure to not over water them.

It will be necessary to repot the bamboo once it becomes too large

Aloe Vera
aloe

The plant’s leaves contain a clear liquid full of vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and other compounds that have wound-healing, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
The roots of this plant tend to grow quite large, so make sure to plant them in a large pot, even if they are quite tiny in the beginning.

Removes
Formaldehyde

Requires
Temperature
Normal house temperatures between 18-22° Celsius (60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit) are ideal. Avoid freezing temperatures as they are made from 95% water.
Location
Place aloe vera in a sunny place like a kitchen or living room window. The plant can survive also in indirect light but it will not thrive in shade.
Watering
Aloe vera does not require too much water and it is pretty low maintenance. Water only when the top soil is dry and then wait for the top 5 cm (2 inches) to dry before next watering. Check the humidity in the soil with your fingers.

About toxic gasses

Formaldehyde

Is a common chemical that has a strong pickle-like odor, classified as a volatile organic compound (VOC), meaning a chemical that becomes gas at room temperature.
It is currently used in thousands of products as an adhesive, bonding agent and solvent. Among others it is found in products such as particle board, plywood, paneling, pressed-wood products and urea formaldehyde foam insulation, and it is most commonly found in new homes. Some synthetic fabrics, especially permanent press, shampoos and cosmetics may also contain small amounts. Formaldehyde is also a product of combustion. When you burn materials such as natural gas, wood, gasoline or tobacco, formaldehyde gas is released.
The health effects of formaldehyde exposure vary from one person to another. The most common symptoms are eye, nose and throat irritation, coughing, headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Human eyes are especially sensitive to formaldehyde. Many people describe the eye irritation as a burning sensation much like when cutting an onion or when you get soap in your eyes.
http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/voc/formaldehyde.htm

Benzene

Benzene is a chemical that is a colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature. It has a sweet odor and is highly flammable. It is widely used in the United States, ranking in the top 20 chemicals for production volume. Some industries use benzene to make other chemicals that are used to make plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers. Benzene is also used to make some types of lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.

Indoor air generally contains levels of benzene higher than those in outdoor air. The benzene in indoor air comes from products that contain benzene such as glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents. The air around hazardous waste sites or gas stations can contain higher levels of benzene than in other areas. A major source of benzene exposure is tobacco smoke.

Benzene affects humans by causing cells not to work correctly. For example, it can cause bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, which can lead to anemia. Also, it can damage the immune system by changing blood levels of antibodies and causing the loss of white blood cells. The seriousness of poisoning caused by benzene depends on the amount, route, and length of time of exposure, as well as the age and preexisting medical condition of the exposed person.
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/benzene/basics/facts.asp

Trichloroethylene

The main use of trichloroethylene is in the vapor degreasing of metal parts. It is also used as an extraction solvent for greases, oils, fats, waxes, a chemical intermediate in the production of other chemicals, and as a refrigerant.

Trichloroethylene is used in consumer products such as typewriter correction fluids, paint removers/strippers, adhesives, spot removers, and rug-cleaning fluids.

Trichloroethylene inhalation, acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term), can affect the human central nervous system (CNS), with symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, confusion, euphoria, facial numbness, and weakness. Liver, kidney, immunological, endocrine, and developmental effects have also been reported in humans.

http://www3.epa.gov/airtoxics/hlthef/tri-ethy.html

Xylene

Is a powerful chemical compound that is found in many household and industrial items. This chemical is colorless but has a very distinctive odor. Products that contain xylene include paints, varnishes, fingernail polish, adhesives, rubber cement and gasoline.

Effects on humans very depending on the length and the intensity of the exposure. The effects can include blurred vision, abdominal pain, nausea, low blood pressure, chest pain, dizziness, headache, nervousness.

http://www.home-air-purifier-expert.com/xylene.html

Ammonia

People may be exposed to ammonia gas outdoors in the air from leaks and spills at production plants or storage facilities. Higher levels of ammonia in the air may occur when fertilizer with ammonia compounds is applied to farm fields. Farmers, cattle ranchers, and people who raise other types of livestock or poultry can be exposed to ammonia from decaying manure.

People may be exposed to ammonia indoors while using household products that contain ammonia such as cleaning solutions, window cleaners, floor waxes, and smelling salts. Remember to ventilate rooms when you clean with ammonia and dilute it as recommended on the label. Never mix ammonia with bleach. Keep chemical cleaners out of reach of children to prevent exposure and poisoning. Ammonia can also be released into the household air when pets urinate on rugs and when litter boxes are not changed often enough.

https://tn.gov/health/article/ammonia#sthash.4B43Ec7D.dpuf

 

More details in the book> Rethink Home

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