Breathe Easy – Indoor Plants that improve Air Quality

Poor indoor air quality has been linked to health problems, especially in children. The air indoors is as much responsible for asthma-related problems, as is the air pollution levels outdoors. The most common toxin found indoors is called “formaldehyde”. It is present in the form of gas and is emitted by many household products like pressed and varnished wood, some paper and foam products, and paint. Installing expensive air purifiers is something of a rage these days, but they increase ozone levels inside the house. On the contrary, did you know that there are some varieties of indoor plants that filter air in a more benign way? Let’s learn more about these plants and make our homes a cleaner, greener and a safer place to stay. All these plants are available in India.

  1. Chinese evergreen (image required for all plants): These plants are easily available and come in a lot of varieties. As the name suggests, they are evergreen, meaning they don’t shed their leaves in autumn. They are known to remove airborne toxins like formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) and benzene. It can grow to between one and three feet. Place these in rooms that have heavy furniture as the varnish and glue used in furniture can contain formaldehyde.
  2. Snake Plant:  This plant grows in a straight line and is also referred to Mother-in-law’s tongue owing to its height. It is effective in filtering out nitrogen oxide and formaldehyde. Nitrogen oxide is produced whenever there is anything lit. Exposure to this gas causes short-term loss of manual dexterity and mental performance. Long term exposure can lead to Vitamin B12 deficiency and reproductive problems. Snake plants release oxygen at night and absorb carbon-dioxide, making it an ideal plant for bedrooms.
  3. Spider Plant: The NASA has named this plant as one of the most effective in removing formaldehyde from indoor air. Even if you tend to neglect house plants, you will have a tough time getting rid of this one as it thrives even with infrequent watering and low sunlight. It also filters carbon monoxide, benzene and xylene. Keeping these in the kitchen is a good idea where a lot of carbon monoxide is released when cooking.
  4. Areca Palm and Date Palm: Both these are varieties of the Palm tree. Known to be very effective in removing formaldehyde. These two make a great pair when placed together. They need to be placed in filtered light and watered frequently. If placing in direct sunlight, they need lots of water. An ideal place to keep them is the lobby or entrance of your house.
  5. Chrysanthemums:  There are hundreds of varieties of chrysanthemums. You could take your pick depending upon the height and girth it acquires when fully grown. They thrive in good light and frequent watering. Effective in filtering out Ammonia and benzene. Ammonia is present in cleaning agents, which we use frequently in our homes. So it makes sense to place these plants indoors rather than balconies.

The NASA published a study where they have named 10 house plants which have shown to effectively decrease indoor pollution. Apart from the ones mentioned above, the list includes the Bamboo Palm, Boston fern, English Ivy, Peace Lily and Heart Leaf Philodendron.

Any home looks great when there is a bit of green thrown in. It increases the aesthetic appeal of the house while lending it a brighter look. So go ahead and splurge guilt-free on these plants today!


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