Description: Plants have long been known for their ability to remove pollutants from the air. Indoor air pollution, in homes as well as commercial buildings, is being recognized as a serious health problem. The air pollution inside your home can be much worse than the air pollution outside your home. Reducing indoor air pollution is an important step towards creating a safe living environment. By no means will plants replace a quality air filtration system, though specific plants do add excellent, natural air filtration in the home. Plants increase oxygen levels, and can make a dramatic difference in the overall quality of indoor air.

Common Household Air Pollutants: Chemicals commonly found in household air include:

Benzene – used as a solvent in items such as gasoline, detergents, inks, oils, paint, plastic and rubber.

Formaldehyde – found in all indoor environments. Its sources include foam insulation, particle board, pressed-wood products and paper products (including grocery bags, waxed paper, facial tissue and paper towels), which are treated with urea formaldehyde resins. Additionally, many household cleaning agents contain formaldehyde.

Trichloroethylene – a product used in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes and adhesives.

What to look for: Clean, healthy, vibrant plants. Plants that naturally remove pollutants from the air happen to be some of the easiest plants to grow, and are great for interior decorating.

The following plants remove benzene concentrations in the air: Gerbera Daisy, Mum, Peace lily, Bamboo palm, Dracaena Warneckei, English Ivy and Mother-in-law’s tongue.

The following plants remove formaldehyde concentrations in the air: Bamboo Palm, Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’, Mother-in-law’s tongue, Dracaena Marginata, Peace lily, Green Spider plant, and Golden Pathos.

The following plants remove trichloreothylene concentrations in the air: Gerbera Daisy, Dracaena Marginata, Peace Lily, Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ and Bamboo Palm.

Uses: The closer you place plants around you in your home and workspace, the more they are going to benefit you. Use a mix of plants. Include two or three plants in 8- or 10-inch pots, for every 100 square feet of floor space. Plants are not a cure-all for serious indoor air pollution.

Where to find: Garden Centers or Nurseries; online resources.

Avoid: When caring for indoor plants, do not allow plants to sit in stagnant water. After water has drained through the soil into the tray beneath, dispose of any excess water that the plant has not absorbed by the next day. Over-damp soil conditions can lead to growth of mold and other unhealthy microorganisms.

To keep plants clean, healthy and strong, feed plants with a good quality, non-toxic plant food, looking for a powder or liquid food that contains kelp or other seaweed as a primary ingredient. Seaweed is packed with nutrients and balanced minerals. Keep pests and bugs to a minimum by trying the following clean plant recipe: Combine 1 T no-toxic liquid soap in 1 gallon of water. Do not use more soap than the recipe calls for, or you can kill the plants. Mix gently, and pour into spray bottles. In order to remove the bugs, the first application requires spraying the bug-infested areas, allowing the mixture to absorb a few minutes, and then wiping with a soft cloth. Thereafter, follow-up with weekly spray treatments to keep the bugs at bay.