Houseplants can play an integral role in improving the very essence of our lives -- the air we breathe.
Anytime you buy new linens, carpeting, or other home furnishings, you bring the chemicals used in their manufacture into your house too. Even unbagging your dry cleaning can expose you to contaminants. These volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) make up a portion of the air pollution that exists inside our homes. Even when you can't smell them anymore, VOCs pollute the air enough to irritate your respiratory tract and cause headaches, sinus congestion, and fatigue.
Pioneering research at NASA has shown that houseplants are an antidote to many of the unhealthy household substances that contribute to poor indoor air quality and lead to illness. Greenery soaks up VOCs, breaks them down, and uses them for food.
After you've improved the air in your home with plants, find out how to give them the best light possible.
Two or three plants in 8-inch or 10-inch pots for every 100 square feet will help clean up the air in your breathing zone. Double that, and your indoor environment will become healthier in less time -- just one week. A breathing zone is an area of 6 to 8 cubic feet surrounding a person. These are areas where an individual remains for several hours, such as at a desk or computer, watching TV, or sleeping.
Pictured and listed are houseplants effective against a range of the more common household emissions, such as ammonia, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, benzene, xylene, and trichloroethylene. Create houseplant groups by mixing varieties.