Indoor Air Pollution Impacts Our Health
Indoor air pollution can result in both short-term and long-term effects on your health. Children are especially vulnerable to chemicals and pollutants, both in their home and their school.
Stay watchful for symptoms of air pollution in your children and get involved in your school district to improve the quality of their air.
Short-term symptoms of exposure to indoor air pollution resemble symptoms you experience from an allergy or a cold.
- Worsening asthma
- Itchy watery eyes
- Scratchy throat
- Runny nose
While these symptoms usually disappear within a couple hours after no longer being exposed to the pollutant, long-term health conditions do not simply resolve by removing yourself from the polluted environment.
These health conditions include:
- Bronchitis, asthma and emphysema
- Accelerated aging of lung tissue and lung cancer
- High blood pressure, heart attack and stroke
- Shortened lifespan
- Decreased cognitive function
Houseplants are very functional decorations for your home and office that brighten your space, improve your mood and clean your air.
Several studies find that potted plants improve your work and living space by reducing your blood pressure, improving your attention and productivity, lowering your anxiety levels and raising your job satisfaction.
Other research has demonstrated that doing tasks around plants has led to a higher degree of accuracy and better results in the task performed.
Memory retention and concentration also improved in this study. The researchers found that exposure to plants improved memory performance by 20%.
Research has demonstrated that indoor plants kept close to an individual’s space at work had a statistically significant effect on how many sick days they took and their level of productivity. These associations may have practical significance when applied to a large number of workers over time.
Plants may also be used for phytoremediation, or the mitigation of pollution in air, soil and water.
Scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), University of Georgia and Pennsylvania State University have demonstrated that potted plants in your home can improve your air quality.
Plants remove pollutants by absorbing them through their leaves and roots, in much the same way they clean the outdoor air from the pollution given off by manufacturing plants, cars and heating systems.
Plants You May Use to Decorate and Improve Your Air Quality
Most leafy plants are adept at removing some pollution from your indoor air. However, scientists have also discovered there are several that are better at removing VOCs from your home and workplace. NASA was behind some of the initial research in 1989 to determine specific plants that might be useful to reduce pollution in sealed environments.21
Researchers have continued to investigate the abilities of different plants to clean your indoor air of pollution. More recent research has identified these 12 houseplants as those that are most beneficial, and the specific VOCs they are adept at removing.
The results from this study are on the agenda of a meeting of the American Chemical Society.
Jade Plant: Particularly good at absorbing toluene emitted from gasoline, paint, kerosene and lacquers. These plants flourish in medium light, single pot and room temperature. Allow the soil to dry between watering; brown leaves indicate they need more water.
Spider Plant: These plants can absorb up to 90 percent of formaldehyde and carbon monoxide from tobacco smoke and O-xylene from fuels and P-xylene found in plastics. (This plant is also called the airplane plant.) It is resilient and survives well even if you don’t have a green thumb. The plant is safe for your pets and easy to grow.
Scarlet Start: In the family of Bromeliads, as is the pineapple, this plant easily purifies the air of 90% of benzenes emitted from glues, furniture wax, detergent and paint. These plants are easy to grow indoors and have very few problems with pests. They withstand drought well, but never overwater them.
Caribbean Tree Cactus: These cactus plants can absorb up to 80% of the ethylbenzene in the space they are kept. This chemical is emitted from electronic products, construction material, garden care products, toys and furniture. Most cactus plants will do well in pots with the right amount of food, light and water. Although they withstand the drought well, they do require more water indoors than they do in the ground.
Dracaena: These beautiful variegated leaf plants absorb 90% of the acetone from household cleaners and nail polish remover.
Ferns: These leafy plants require a lot of water and provide humidity for your home.
Peace Lily: These plants come in either a solid color or variegated leaf variety. They bloom in the spring and don’t require much light. Keep them close at hand in your office as they absorb electromagnetic radiation from your digital devices and humidify the air.
English Ivy: Easy to grow and care for, they are excellent at absorbing the toxins from cigarette smoke and cleansing the air for people suffering from asthma.
Ficus: Slightly more difficult to care for, the Ficus cleanses odors from the air and reduces toxic substances from your home and office. There are several varieties of the plant.
Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue: This plant is easy to care for and grows well. It removes benzene and formaldehyde and increases the oxygen supply in the room at night.
Philodendron: These are favorite plants as they are easily grown and look great in hanging pots. They efficiently detoxify formaldehyde but are toxic to cats and dogs.
Bamboo Palm: Also known as the Reed Palm, this plant thrives indoors and readily absorbs formaldehyde outgassing from furniture. If you have purchased a new chair or couch you may want to decorate with a couple of these plants.
Some air pollutants are 100X more concentrated in your home than they are outside. You are dependent on quality air to support your respiratory system and your overall health.
Focus on your health, easy to care for plants will help.