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Have you ever considered going indoors to “get a breath of fresh air?” It’s not as crazy as it sounds, considering the level of air pollution we experience daily from automobile engines, factories, asphalt fumes, and pesticide use. A few well-placed house plants can make your indoor air safer to breathe.
House plants, or tropical foliage plants, are more than just decorative accents. NASA research has shown that foliage plants “scrub” the air, removing toxins commonly found in homes and office buildings. Volatile organic compounds (VOS’S) KNOWN TO CAUSE ALLERGIC REACTIONS, AND EVEN CANCER OR OTHER SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS, HAVE BEEN FOUND BY THE EPA INSIDE NEWER ENERGY-EFFICIENT BUILDINGS. New building methods and products have led to what is called “sick building syndrome,” where vapors from toxic chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene are trapped inside causing some people to experience headaches, asthma, and other allergy symptoms. Studies are still being made to determine if long-term exposure to these VOC’S can contribute to increased incidences of cancer. In addition to these chemicals, carbon monoxide and “bio effluents” (gases produced during human respiration) are also sources of indoor pollution.
Plants naturally “breathe in” carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis. As a result of this process, oxygen is released by the plants’ leaves. Plants also breathe in pollution in the air around them through microscopic openings in the leaves, and the toxins then move through the plant to the root zone. Room air is also drawn into the soil of a potted plant as the plant begins to dry. Microorganisms living around the roots “eat” any of these air-borne pollutants with which they come into contact, breaking down their chemical structures into molecules that can be taken up by the plant as nutrients or that remain harmless in the soil.
As a general rule of thumb, the larger the leaves, the more efficient the plant is at cleaning the air, but most plants are doing some good. Tests have shown that, while one plant is better at eliminating one chemical or another, an assortment of plants placed throughout an indoor space should make our homes and offices healthier. Potted plants are air purifiers that don’t require batteries or a filter change.
Here at the Great Big Greenhouse, we have designated February as HOUSEPLANT MONTH! We want to give you a great opportunity to come and learn more about house plants.
Starting this Saturday, February 1, and for every Saturday in February, we are offering free educational seminars on houseplants:
Along with these seminars, we will have different houseplants on sale throughout the month. Visit February is Houseplant Month for more information and detail.