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Green Homes Need Green Plants — an article on the Smart Living Network
February 18, 2009 at 3:39 PMComments: 0 Faves: 1

Green Homes Need Green Plants

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How much do you know about the air quality in your home? Did you know that even if you don't smoke or use lots of chemicals, and dust and vacuum regularly, your air could still be tainted by the chemicals that leak out of the house itself? Newer homes are designed for energy efficiency. They effectually seal out the outside with walls and adhesives that allow excellent conservation of gas and electricity. But many modern building and decorating materials contain dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene, which are trapped in your energy-efficient home.

Consider this: Formaldehyde is defined as "a toxic air pollutant subject to regulatory action" by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. It is a water-soluble gas that tends to settle in the upper respiratory tract, and could spread to the lungs. Formaldehyde is dangerous. The people inside these chemical-ridden homes are at risk of contracting Sick Building Syndrome, which is the manifestation of conditions like allergies, asthma, and headaches resulting from in-home pollutants. Fortunately, there is a simple way to drastically improve the air quality in your house. And there are no machines or expensive services required. The answer is vegetation. While they are converting the carbon dioxide we exhale into oxygen that we can inhale, plants are also absorbing other harmful elements and chemicals, like formaldehyde. In 1989, NASA conducted a studied 19 plant varieties to learn more about their abilities of air purification. Their findings showed that simple houseplants significantly improve air quality through absorption. More recently, researchers at Korea's National Horticulture Research Institute looked specifically at the absorption ability of the plants Weeping Fig and Fatsia Japonica. Their findings were published in the Journal of American Society for Horticultural Science. The study involved three containers, each with both plant types. Each container held a different form of the plant: whole, roots only, or leaves only. Formaldehyde was pumped into each container. Over four hours, the whole plants were able to absorb about 80% of the formaldehyde, and the roots and leaves together absorbed a similar amount. Control chambers, where there were no plants, saw less than a 20% increase in formaldehyde in five hours.

Researchers theorized that microorganisms living in the plant soil are major contributors to the chemical reduction. It is also thought that houseplants, which are often from tropical climates and thrive in shady places, are excellent at absorbing light, and therefore have an easier time taking in household gases. This is wonderful news! Plants can not only beautify your home but purify your air. Here are just a few of the varieties that have been shown to absorb optimal amounts of the questionable elements that might be in you home:

  • English Ivy
  • Bamboo Palms
  • Spider Plants
  • Peace Lily
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Heartleaf Philodendron

All of these should be easily found at you local nursery. Enjoy!

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