House plants are a wonderful way to brighten up your apartment home and make it come alive (literally!). Our last blog post discussed plants that you can eat, but this week, we will discuss plants that can help you breathe. Both types of plants can improve your health, but these plants can help purify the air in your apartment.
You may not know this, but the EPA currently ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top threats to public health. Because we spend as much as much as 90% of our lives indoors, this affects everyone. Indoor air pollution has been directly linked to an increase in allergic reactions as well as other illnesses and fatigue.
The latest energy-efficient building practices are also contributing to this problem. New buildings are more “airtight” which can create environments with less air circulation. This results in gases that were given off by synthetic building materials being recirculated throughout the enclosed environment creating what is called “Sick Building Syndrome.” Two of the most common symptoms of people working or living in sick buildings are breathing or sinus problems and burning eyes. Synthetic building materials emit volatile organic chemical compounds, or VOCs. VOC vapors enter our air and the earth’s atmosphere. They are often used in paint, carpet backing, plastic and cosmetics. Long-term exposure to VOCs can pose health risks, such as cancer, organ damage and nervous system damage.
NASA spent a lot of time and money studying the effects of VOCs. In 1973, NASA scientists identified 107 VOC’s in the air inside the Skylab space station. Synthetic materials used to construct Skylab gave off low levels of chemicals. This effect, also known as off-gassing, spread the VOCs, such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene, all known irritants and potential carcinogens. When these chemicals are trapped without circulation, as was the case with the Skylab, the inhabitants became ill.
NASA research also found that specific varieties of indoor plants removed these harmful VOCs from the air as well as safely and effectively cleaning the air by naturally recycling the air around them. During NASA tests once the plants were introduced to the closed environment, analysis of the air quality indicated that most of the VOCs had been removed, and the symptoms disappeared.
Here is the list of NASA’s top 10 effective VOC removing plants:
The Areca palm tree is the very best air purifying plant, and it has the ability to maintain your office or home moist throughout dry periods. In the winter, it’s so effective at putting moisture back in the air that you could switch off your electric humidifiers! If you are having problems with allergies, try some of these plants. English ivy is a good solution for allergic reactions, since it removes mold spores. Hopefully, these plants can relieve some of your symptoms, and you will start feeling better.