There is no denying the pleasant feeling of a home full of green plants. The air is fresh and clean, you can almost feel the positive energy. Not only do plants provide life-giving oxygen, but they also do something even more incredible.
In a study by the U.S. environmental protection agency (EPA), an 800-cubic-foot-room (10 x 10 x 8ft) contained pollution levels of approximately 1,808 micrograms of formaldehyde, 112 mgs of xylene and 67 micrograms of benzene.
Formaldehyde, a colorless, pungent-smelling gas, can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing in some humans exposed at elevated levels (above 0.1 parts per million). High concentrations may trigger attacks in people with asthma. There is evidence that some people can develop a sensitivity to formaldehyde. It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans. Health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; severe allergic reactions. Formaldehyde may cause cancer.
Common house plants such as the Boston fern, English ivy and spider plants are inexpensive, ecologically sound, aesthetically pleasing ways to filter toxins from your home, particularly in those winter months when you are likely to spend a lot of time cooped up indoors. A single Boston fern can remove 1,800 micrograms of formaldehyde from the air in about an hour!
The Foliage for Clean Air Council, a communications clearinghouse for information on the use of foliage to improve indoor air quality, recommends a minimum of two plants per 100 square feet of floor space in an average home with 8-10 foot ceilings. Fill your home with as many plants as you can!
If this seems overwhelming, start on a smaller scale by selecting plants that are known to remove the most worrisome pollutants. Four species were particularly efficient in filtering formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and carbon monoxide. These were Boston Fern, English Ivy, Areca Palm and Spider Plant. Introducing these plants into your home can significantly reduce the concentration of these chemicals and possibly hundreds of others.