Quick – think about the easiest ways to improve your home’s air quality. You might have pictured an assortment of filters, humidifiers, and other machinery, but it turns out houseplants might be one of the best ways you can improve the breathability and overall quality of the air you breathe every day.
Houseplants: Nature’s Air Scrubbers
Finding ways to keep your air (and by extension, home and family) healthy is especially important during the winter, when dropping temperatures and inclement weather tend to drive folks inside for longer periods.
And as the National Air and Space Administration (NASA) discovered in a study conducted during the late ’80s, adding certain houseplants to your home can help clean the air of potentially dangerous compounds, including:
- Formaldehyde, which is used in wrinkle-resistant clothing, paper products, and furniture, and can irritate the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs
- Xylene, an additive used in paints, lacquers, adhesives, and permanent markers that can not only irritate your mouth and throat, but cause headaches and issues with several organs, including the heart
- Benzene, which is common in cigarette smoke, as well as rubber products, lubricants, dyes, detergents, and pesticides, and has been linked to a host of health issues, including some cancers
- Trichloroethylene is a component of many adhesives and disinfectants, as well as paint removers and varnishes; it can cause headaches, nausea, and irritation of the skin and mucous membranes
- Ammonia, a familiar compound found in household cleaners, fertilizers, and cigarette smoke, that can cause cough, breathing issues, and irritation of the eyes, throat, and lungs
This “rogue’s gallery” of chemical troublemakers is present to some degree in the majority of American homes, but thanks to a few leafy friends, you can breathe a little more easily with the strategic addition of houseplants to your home.
Which Plants Are Best for Cleaning the Air?
The NASA study found that two plants—the Florist’s Chrysanthemum and the Peace Lily—excelled at helping to remove all five of the offending chemicals from the air. Both the Peace Lily and the Florist’s Chrysanthemum bring blooms and beauty to your home in addition to toxin-scrubbing power, but you’ll want to exercise caution when adding these plants to your home. Both are toxic to pets, and the Florist’s Chrysanthemum is an annual, meaning you’ll need to replenish your stock once a year.
Some popular “runners up” that can clean everything on the list except ammonia from the air include English Ivy, the Variegated Snake Plant (also known as “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue”), and Red-edged Dracaena. These plants are toxic to pets as well, so be sure to place them where your dog or cat won’t be tempted to sample the foliage.
You don’t have to put up with contaminants in your air! Taking the time to add a little greenery to your neck of the woods can not only help you breathe more easily, but add color, beauty, and life. And if you’re ready to add even more powerful air cleaning and comfort solutions, be sure to reach out to your local HVAC experts for a consultation; they can help you choose the best heating, filtration, and cooling solutions for your home, budget, and lifestyle.