These days, it’s an unfortunate fact of life that the vast majority of us are living in moderately to highly polluted environments. Outdoor pollution and smog, particularly in dense urban centres, are a major concern, but many people don’t realize that the air inside their homes can also be laden with chemicals.
Indoor air quality can be quite poor due to things like paints, furniture, mold, smoking, oven exhaust, commercial cotton products, cleaning products, hair sprays, and so much more- over time it can really add up! In fact, according to a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, some pollutants are often two to five times higher indoors than outdoors! The same study found that most people spend up to 90% of their time indoors, so what’s going on inside our homes really does matter.
Indoor pollutants have been tied to everything from headaches, nausea, and irritation of eyes, nose, and throat, to more serious implications including respiratory disease and cancer. While everyone is at risk, those with asthma, allergies, or lung disease are especially at risk.
The following are some of the most common chemicals found in our indoor air.
Trichloroethylene: Found in paints, varnishes, and pain removers, it’s been associated with dizziness, nausea, headaches, vomiting, and drowsiness.
Formaldehyde: Found in paper bags, waxed bags, facial tissue, paper towels, and more, formaldehyde can cause irritation to the throat, mouth, and nose, and even swelling of the larynx and lungs.
Benzene: Plastics, synthetic fibers, detergents, pesticides, tobacco smoke, and paints are just some of the many items containing benzene, which can cause drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, and irritation to eyes.
Xylene: Found in rubber, leather, tobacco smoke, and car exhaust, xylene has been known to cause irritation to mouth and throat, dizziness, headaches, heart problems, and even liver and kidney damage.
Ammonia: Ammonia is found in fertilizers and some household cleaners and can cause coughing and irritation to the throat, nose, and respiratory tract.
Okay, that was a lot of daunting information, but don’t worry, this post isn’t all doom and gloom! The good news? There is a very simple, completely natural, and décor-friendly way to purify you air.
In 1989, NASA conducted the Clean Air Study, which looked at the effectiveness of different houseplants for filtering toxins and pollutants out of the air. The findings have stood the test of time and continue to be a great resource today! The study recommended having one house plant per 100 sq. feet in your home. Before choosing a plant for your home, please note that some are toxic to pets, so do some research before you purchase!
Keep reading for the best plants to purify (and beautify!) your home.
This beautiful plant can grow to 8 to 10 feet and will live for decades, so it will be with you for the long haul! It’s been found to filter out formaldehyde and xylene.
Not only is the spider plant one of the most popular house plants but it’s also the one of the easiest to care for (a win for all of us out there who weren’t blessed with a green thumb!). Not only that, but they shoot off babies (called spiderettes!) that can be repotted, so you can have a whole little family of air purifying spider plants. This plant is another that’s great at filtering out formaldehyde and xylene.
This pretty plant has a suiting name because it will really help to keep the peace in your home! It’s able to filter out trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia. It can also absorb mold spores, and it’s great to have in the bathroom to cut down on mildew.
Snake plants have exploded in popularity over the last few years on Instagram, but they’re not just insta-worthy, they’re also an excellent air purifier. Pop one in your home to enjoy a good décor photo-op and protection from trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene.
This Australian-native plant needs a lot of sun and regular watering, but it will reward you with significantly reduced levels of formaldehyde and xylene in your home.
This low maintenance plant does best in medium to low sunlight, doesn’t need much watering, and can live up to 10 years. While it’s great at filtering out formaldehyde and benzene, it is toxic if ingested so shouldn’t be used if you have pets or young kids in the home.
This lovely plant is one of the most popular house plants, and it thrives best in low light so it’s a great option for areas of your home that don’t get a lot of light. It’s great for filtering our formaldehyde and xylene.
Bamboo requires more maintenance than most, but it makes up for it with its ability to filter formaldehyde and xylene, and for the lovely zen feel it brings to a room.
Another popular houseplant, Devil’s Ivy is said to be almost harder to kill than it is to keep alive! Low maintenance? Check! Great for your indoor air quality? Check! It filters out trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene.
Not only are these one of the best air purifiers around (it’s able to filter out ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene), but it’s also one of the only flowering plants on the list. While it does require a bit more work to care for, the payoff is cleaner air and beautiful blooms.
This purifying powerhouse is able to filter out carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene. It’s great for larger spaces or filling in the corner of a room, and it requires fairly minimal care.
Your already know aloe for its skin soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, but did you know that aloe is also great for your air quality? These multi-purpose plants are great at filtering formaldehyde from the air.
This pretty plant can grow anywhere from 2 to 10 ft. and is a lovely addition to your home décor. It helps to filter out benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
We’re saving (one of) the best for last! According to NASA the easy-to-care-for English Ivy is one of the best air purifying plants out there and filters out trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene.
Adding these plants into your home is a simple and effective way to naturally purify and improve your air quality. Looking for more natural home tips? Check out our posts on How to Create a Non-Toxic Bedroom and Your Ultimate Guide to Non-Toxic Cleaning. We’ve also got you covered for plant care with Your Complete Guide to Propagating & Caring for Your House Plants.
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