In a region where we spend most of our time indoors, it’s important to take a closer look at the air that we’re breathing day in and day out. According to Goumbook, an organization aimed at raising awareness on sustainability and green living in the UAE, the indoor air that we breathe is often more polluted than the outdoor air. Indeed, pollutants can be found everywhere in our homes, coming from our printers, dry cleaning, carpeting, ceiling tiles, cleaning products, tobacco smoke, gas stoves, air fresheners, paints and thinners, mold, and even our nail-polish remover.
Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Founder of Goumbook, explains, “Most indoor pollutants that affect our health are Volatile Organic Compounds (benzene and trichloroethylene or TCE), airborne biological pollutants, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, pesticides and disinfectants (phenols), and radon. The biggest hazard, however, is particulate matter (PM) – tiny particles of sand, dust, and chemicals that can penetrate deep within the lungs.” Why should you care? Well, poor air quality has been proven to lead to severe conditions, like asthma, allergies, fatigue, and, in extreme cases, cancer and death.
But the news is not all bleak. According to tests conducted by NASA, household plants were found to be effective at purifying indoor air through a process that allows them to absorb the harmful pollutants and store them in their roots and leaves. Other pollutants are also destroyed by the microorganisms in the soil.
These ten plants were found to be amongst the most effective at cleaning indoor air – plus they’ll look great in any home.
The Peace Lily
Living up to its name, the Peace Lily can remove pollutants such as acetone, ammonia, benzene, ethyl acetate, formaldehyde, methyl alcohol, trichloroethylene, x-lene, n-hexane, and toluene. With wide, deep-green leaves and white flowers, it’s a lovely addition to any home.
According to Sheila Joseph, indoor plant expert at Dubai Garden Centre, these plants are very easy to take care of. Simply transfer to a bigger pot as it grows, keep near a sunny window, water once a week, and fertilize once a month. For the best results, the Peace Lily should be thoroughly watered, then allowed to go moderately dry between waterings.
The Snake Plant
If you don’t possess a green thumb, the snake plant is for you. Also humorously called mother-in-law’s tongue, it’s a hardy plant that is tough to kill.
The snake plant scores high on removing chemicals and only needs low light conditions. It filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene from the air. It is also known as the bedroom plant because, while most plants take away oxygen at night, this one releases it.
The Spider Plant
The spider plant can remove 90 percent of indoor toxins within two days. It’s great for those who suffer from allergies and can absorb mold, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide.
It’s an adaptable plant that is easy to grow. Water it well, but don’t allow the plant or soil to go soggy, and make sure it receives plenty of indirect sunlight.
Aloe Vera is touted as an ingenious remedy for sunburns, but it also presents a host of other benefits, including filtering benzene and formaldehyde.
This plant is very easy to maintain, but make sure that your pot provides proper drainage, the absence of which is probably its most common cause of death.
The Boston Fern
The Boston fern is a cheerful addition to any home and looks great as a hanging plant. Place it in bright, indirect sunlight and barely-moist soil and it will reward you by removing formaldehyde and toluene from the air.
Dracaena Reflexa or Dracaena Deremensis
The Dracaena family of plants will clear formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, and xylene from your home. Whatever type you opt for, they are strong plants that prefer bright, indirect sunlight, are hard to kill, and require little water.
English and Devils Ivy
Both of these plants are great at removing benzene, formaldehyde, and acetone. Additionally, Devils Ivy removes carbon monoxide, while English Ivy removes toluene, octane, alpha-pinene, and trichloroethylene.
The Lady Palm
The lady palm is great for removing formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and toluene from your space. While this plant grows slowly, adapting well to most interiors, it can grow to be over 14 feet in height.
Please note that most, if not all, of these plants are toxic to animals. Do not rely solely on plants to purify the air in your home. Ventilation checks, air purifiers, and switching to less harmful cleaning products will help as well.