Green living: Save Our Earth By Living Green

Using Plants to Purify the Air in Your Home

The cold, and often wet, of winter tends to keep us cooped up inside our homes more than throughout the rest of the year. Indoor air in our offices and homes is some of the most polluted air we breathe. Not only do pollutants from the outside air make it into our homes, but there is a tremendous amount of off-gassing that comes from almost everything in our homes, from our couches to our pillows, to our carpets and kitchen cabinets.

Plant in house
Image: flickr.com/photos/sizima

The chemicals used in the manufacturing and treating of these materials release gasses that pollute the air in our homes. Since the cold of winter keeps us from opening up our windows and doors as we do in the warmer months, we don’t have the benefit of breezes or an infusion of fresh air to help clear out these pollutants in our homes.

Air filters, whether you choose a portable room unit or a whole-house filter, go a long way to clearing these pollutants from the air. Some models can also be very expensive. If you are looking for a more natural way to clean the air in your home, without using the electricity, think about houseplants. Not only do they exchange the carbon dioxide in the air for oxygen, but they clean the air of some of the other pollutants.

The idea is that plants, particularly those with large leaves, will “breathe” the pollutants first, scrubbing them from our air. NASA has studied the ability of houseplants to purify the air. The study suggests that a minimum of one 6-inch plant per 100 square feet in your home will clean the air better than many air filtration systems on the market. If your have larger plants, they can do the same job as a few of their smaller friends. Plants do not, however, do much in the way of cleaning the air in your home of dust or tobacco smoke and its associated pollutants.

While all plants improve the quality of the air in some fashion, some are better than others for indoor pollutants. The NASA study suggests that Chrysanthemums are the best plants for removing the most common household air pollutants, so if you’re just getting one, make it a mum. By cleaning the air and increasing the oxygen level in your home with houseplants, you can improve your health by increasing your quality of sleep while decreasing common colds, headaches, and more. Caring for plants and having a bit of nature around you can help calm your stress and even lower your blood pressure.

Once you have decided to keep plants in your home, decide what types you want and where you want to keep them. Keep in mind that the plants know the difference between partial sun, dim light, and indirect light. Choose plants that will be happy where you want them to live. Plants also equal water, so take precautions against water damage by placing plants in an area that won’t be damaged by a little water or with a water barrier between the plant and the surface.

There are some houseplants that are toxic to people or animals. If you have small children or house pets, the will, more than likely get into your plants at one time or another. Avoiding plants on this list of toxic houseplants will help minimize the risk when this happens. If you don’t know where to start, talk to someone at your local nursery. They will be knowledgeable about a variety of plants and their specific needs.

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