Many of us take indoor plants for granted. They’re pretty and add character to a home, but that’s about all, right? Actually, they’re good for much more than that. A variety of houseplants also can help clean the air inside your home. Several years ago, scientists at NASA and several American universities found that certain plants have the ability to absorb not just carbon dioxide from the air, but certain chemicals as well.
This is an important discovery since increasingly in recent years, preserving air quality in homes has become a top concern of both homeowners and the HVAC industry.
The ability of plants to absorb carbon dioxide through pores on their leaves as part of photosynthesis has long been understood. However the scientists discovered they also can absorb various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals. These include benzene (contained in cigarette smoke, pesticides, plastics and fabrics) and formaldehyde (found in some carpet cleaners, fabric softeners and cosmetics), among many others.
It’s well known that VOCs and other indoor airborne contaminants can trigger or exacerbate a variety of adverse health issues, including allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. They also have been linked to certain types of cancer.
Houseplants not only absorb gases through their leaves and roots; the organic-rich soil they grow in helps to neutralize VOCs and other contaminants.
So what type of plants should you look for? Just about any green, leafy houseplant will absorb some unwanted gases, though the following are considered especially effective: aloe vera, spider plant, Boston ferns, English ivy, golden pothos and peace lilies, among others.
Notwithstanding indoor plants’ utility in improving air quality in the home, they shouldn’t be your only tool. They should be part of an overall strategy that includes an efficient HVAC filter, judicious use of natural ventilation (open those windows when the weather allows), source control (dust and clean frequently and buy natural alternatives to VOC-containing products), and a whole-house air-cleaning system.
For more information on cleaning the air in your Orlando-area home, please contact us at Rinaldi’s Emergy Solutions.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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