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Our 53rd Year

Indoor Air Pollution? House Plants to the Rescue! By Anahad O’Connor

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the levels of air pollutants inside homes can far exceed the levels outside, thanks to household cleaning products, central heating and cooling systems, and other indoor sources. But scientists have found that certain plants can scrub your home of airbourne chemicals, albeit gradually.

In addition to figuring out how to land a car-size rover on Mars, scientists at NASA have investigated ways to rid spacecraft of airborne pollutants, some of them common offenders in American homes as well. The agency found that at least 15 common indoor plants could filter – to one degree or another – pollutants like the carcinogens benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is commonly found in drapes, glues and coating products. Benzene is a component of paint supplies and tobacco smoke, and trichloroethylene is used in adhesives, spot removers and other household products.

According to NASA research, some of the plants most effective at cleaning these compounds from the air are devil’s ivy, peace lilies, Pleomele, gerbera daisies and Sansevieria trifasciata, commonly called snake plant. Two other plants, the ficus and Japanese aralia, are also effective.

A good rule of thumb is to have one plant for roughly every 100 square feet of living space, said Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, an allergist at New York University School of Medicine.

“We spend a lot of time with our patients talking about things like pets, humidifiers and air purifiers,” he said, “but this is a way to naturally clean the air.”

Source: New York Times