Air pollution is a concern outdoors, but maybe we should be more aware of the toxins that can exist in our homes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that our homes can actually contain three to five times more pollutants than outdoors.
What kind of pollutants can be lurking in your air at home without you even realizing it? Substances like xylene (in paint and lacquers), benzene (furniture wax, insect sprays) trichloroethylene (cleaners, adhesives), and formaldehyde (upholstery, air fresheners) are found in many homes. These toxins can produce physical symptoms like headaches, sore throats, or allergy-like breathing troubles.
So, what can you do? An easy solution, according to a Nasa study, is to use common house plants to reduce the toxins in the air. That's right: plants can absorb pollutants and effectively detox your house of some of these harmful substances. But not just any plant will do. Below are the plants that Nasa recommends and the toxins they are good at filtering out.
Dwarf Date Palm - xylene
Boston Fern - xylene and formaldehyde
Kimberly Queen Fern - xylene
Spider Plant - formaldehyde and carbon monoxide
Chinese Evergreen - formaldehyde and benzene (note: this plant is poisonous when ingested)
Bamboo Palm - benzene and formaldehyde (note: great for winter months because it helps keep air moist)
Weeping Fig - formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene
Devil's Ivy - benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene (note: great beginner's plant)
Flamingo Lily - formaldehyde, ammonia, toluene, and xylene (note: this plant is poisonous when ingested)
Lilyturf - trichloroethylene, xylene and ammonia (note: good for home offices)
Broadleaf Lady Palm - formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and toluene
Barberton Daisy - formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene
Cornstalk Dracaena - formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene
English Ivy - trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene (note: great for salons)
Variegated Snake Plant - formaldehyde (note: great for bathrooms)
Red-Edged Dracaena - trichloroethylene (note: great for during home improvements)
Peace Lily - mold spores
Florist's Chrysanthemum - all of the pollutants Nasa studied
Not a plant expert? No worries. Read this article on Reader's Digest to learn about the maintenance of each plant so you know which plant would be ideal for you.
If you're not a plant person, or are worried about pets or grandchildren destroying plants, you have other options.
Try opening your windows just five minutes a day (if you have outdoor allergies, this may not be best for you, or at least don't do it on days where allergens are high).
Essential oil diffusers can be used to help kill airborne bacteria and dust mites.
Portable air filters and HVAC filters can also reduce indoor air pollution. To cover a larger room or multiple rooms in your house you'll want an air purifier for 1200 sq. ft. room. Be sure to look for a "True HEPA" product, which will be highly efficient at capturing microscopic particles.