IMG_2422Did you know that having a plant in your interior living space does more than provide you with something pretty and green? I have seen a wide range of love between people and their plants. Some people have names for their plants and talk to them on a regular basis, while others refuse to do more than look at them, claiming they have a death touch. For all of us, plants provide much more than companionship. They add oxygen, humidity, and clean our air of harmful toxins.

For many years, humans have been working on increasing energy efficiency in our buildings with more insulation and air tight sealing of buildings. These steps are great in many ways but they can have an unfortunate side effect: indoor air pollution. This indoor pollution can cause “sick building syndrome.” The effects of indoor air pollution tend to be similar to allergy symptoms; skin rashes, headaches, itchy eyes, drowsiness, respiratory and sinus congestion.

NASA completed a study that was published in 1989 that showed the impact of indoor plants on indoor air pollution. NASA scientists identified 107 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air. Many synthetic materials used for building give off low levels of chemicals. This effect, known as off-gassing, spreads the VOCs, such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene, all known irritants and potential carcinogens. When these chemicals are trapped inside by our energy efficient buildings, the inhabitants may become ill because the air they breathe has not been cleaned by Earth’s complex ecosystem. NASA specifically studied the effects of plants on benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. They found that many different kinds of plants reduce these chemicals in our indoor environments.

If you are interested in cleaning your indoor air, here are some suggestions for interior plants based on their ecological benefits. They were graded on ease of growth and maintenance, pest resistance, efficiency of removing chemical toxins and transpiration rates (increased air moisture).

IMG_1966
1.    Areca Palm Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
2.    Lady Palm Rhapis excelsa
3.    Bamboo Palm Chamaedorea seifrizii
4.    Rubber Plant Ficus elastica
5.    Dracaena Janet Craig Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’
6.    English Ivy Hedera helix
7.    Dwarf Date Palm Phoenix roebelenii
8.    Ficus Alii Ficus binnendiijkii ‘Alii’
9.    Boston Fern Nephrolepis exaltata
10.    Peace Lily Spathiphyllum

You don’t have to take my word on the benefits of interior plants. Check out these other sources:

http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/Spinoff2007/ps_3.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_air-filtering_plants

http://www.zone10.com/nasa-study-house-plants-clean-air.html