Friday, February 1, 2008
Clean indoor air!
An excerpt from an article by
Christine Arpe Gang
Special to The Commercial Appeal
Friday, February 1, 2008
Some of the most common, easy-to-grow and readily available houseplants have been found to be the best air cleaners.
A classic NASA study found that in 24 hours houseplants can remove up to 87 percent of indoor air toxins in a sealed environment.
Those toxins include ammonia, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and trichloroethylene.
They are common volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) emitted by carpets, building materials, paint, cleaning products, fabrics, tobacco products and other materials in our homes.
Because fresh air exchange is reduced as homes become better insulated, indoor pollution can be a real problem, especially for people with asthma, allergies and other chronic health problems.
Dr. B. C. Wolverton, a retired NASA scientist, has distilled the agency's research into usable information in his book, "How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office," published by Penguin Books in 1996.
He is president of Wolverton Environmental Services Inc. in Picayune, Miss.
Three palms top Wolverton's list of houseplants with exceptional ability to remove chemical vapors:
The areca palm, which is sometimes called butterfly palm, is the common feathery tropical plant we see in vast quantities in the spring.
Lady palm has fan-like foliage at the end of the stems.
Bamboo palm has clusters of bamboo-like canes and fan-shaped foliage.
Others at the top of his list are rubber plant, Janet Craig dracaena, English ivy, dwarf date palm, Ficus alii (also less finicky than Ficus benjamina), Boston fern, peace lily, corn plant and florist mum.
In the next tier are dragon tree, several philodendrons, dieffenbachia, parlor palm, weeping fig (Benjamina), schefflera and wax begonia.
Flowering plants, with the exception of mums and peace lily, are a little less powerful in air-scrubbing ability, but they still have cleansing qualities.
Wolverton lists Christmas cactus, dendrobium orchid, anthurium, poinsettia, dwarf azaleas, cyclamen, bromeliads, potted tulips, moth orchids and kalanchoes. They are about half as effective as the palms at the top of the list.
It's recommended that a homeowner place 15 to 18 medium-sized plants in an-1,800 square foot house for effective VOC removal.
"A growing body of research shows cultivating plants indoors and outdoors may be the best medicine available for improving mental and physical wellbeing at any age," Wolverton writes.
Read the whole story here: