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Houseplants purify the air in your home by removing airborne chemicals, pollutants

Monday, March 19, 2007 by: M. T. Whitney
Tags: houseplants, indoor air quality, health news

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Certain houseplants can counteract the harmful chemicals emitted into the home environment by cleaning products, paint and tobacco smoke, says certified Master Gardener Barbara Michael in the Columbia Missourian newspaper.

Jump directly to: conventional view | alternative view | resources | bottom line

What you need to know - Conventional View

• The biggest offenders to health found in the home are benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and carbon monoxide.

• Benzene, found in tobacco smoke, paint and some other materials, can be reduced with "gerbera daisy, chrysanthemum, peace lily, bamboo palm, dracaena, English ivy and snake plant," Michael writes. Benzene can cause dizziness, headaches, eye and skin irritation, as well as respiratory problems. Those individuals looking for a low maintenance plant that can live in the corner of a house quite happily while it looks to reduce the effects of benzene need look no further than the bamboo palm. Another durable houseplant that is low maintenance is the snake plant.

• Formaldehyde, which can be found in such items as permanent-pressed clothing, pressed wood furniture, certain paper products and even carpeting, can be reduced with "bamboo palm, dracaena janet craig, dracaena marginata, snake plant, peace lily, spider plant, golden pathos and heartleaf philodendron," Michael writes. Formaldehyde can irritate asthma and create headaches, and many people can develop a hypersensitivity to it after repeated exposure. In addition, formaldehyde has been linked to certain kinds of cancers.

• Trichloroethylene, another carcinogen, can be removed by adding "gerbera daisy, chrysanthemum, dracaena marginata, peace lily, dracaena janet craig" or bamboo palm to your house, Michael says.

• Carbon monoxide, which causes drowsiness and headaches, can be reduced with all of the plants mentioned above: bamboo palm, spider plant, golden pathos, dracaena janet craig, dracaena marginata, snake plant, peace lily, chrysanthemum, English ivy and heartleaf philodendron. Most are very low maintenance plants.

What you need to know - Alternative View

Statements and opinions by Mike Adams, executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center

• Indoor air pollution is a serious health concern, and the chemicals used in home products -- such as carpeting, flooring, wallpaper and paint -- can be extremely toxic.

• Using more plants is a safe, natural and effective way to reduce the chemical burden inside your home. Another strategy involves sourcing eco-friendly materials when you build or remodel your home.

Bottom line

Among their benefits, some plants can help give you a healthier home environment at little cost or commitment.

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