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  • Dr. Kaitlyn N. Staal

The power of plants: in the Home.

  1. In today’s world, it seems like wherever we go, whatever we eat, even what we are BREATHING is constantly bombarding us with toxins and pollutants. In your own home, formaldehyde is being released from your carpets, furniture, paper products, even some fabrics! The fact is, home is a place where we trap and accumulate many potentially harmful elements which then linger in our homes’ air. Other volatile organic compounds that are released include Mercury, toluene and ethylbenzene, and these among others can be causing respiratory issues such as asthma, allergic reactions and other forms of unwellness. Fortunately, (and yet again) plants come to the rescue! A home should be sanctuary; a place to escape the insults, a place to refresh and heal yourself. Luckily, there is a wonderful way to clean the air and promote nature at the same time. Indoor plants are a great, all natural solution and are proven to filter pollutants out of the air you and your loved ones are breathing at home. Scientific studies have shown that certain species of plants are able to metabolize different volatile organic compounds. These pollutants come off of the furniture, carpeting, flooring, bedding, etc. and linger in the air where we can inhale and absorb them. Since there is specificity of what each plant can filter, it is best to have a wide array of different plants to handle the different substances that may be trapped in your home’s air. Plants proven to clean the air include golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum), Osmunda japonica commonly known as Japanese royal fern, plants of the bromeliad family and Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides), snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata), spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum), and Aloe vera, among many others. Not only will the home be more aesthetically pleasing, but you can be assured that they are working hard so your body doesn’t have to. Indoor plants have also proven to be healers outside of just lowering our toxic burdens: studies have shown that having them in rooms of patients recovering from surgery helped them heal faster, reduced their anxiety, lowered their blood pressure, raised pain tolerance and controlled fatigue. People felt more positive about their environment, had reduced stress, and felt better about the people around them! Imagine what they can do for you… For every 100 square feet of space, you’ll want at least two 10-12in potted plants. If a room sees more traffic than others, add more plants! If you are renovating or redecorating, add more plants! There are many resources available online which list the most powerful air purifiers. So stop by your nearest plant nursery and begin to breathe easy! ​ works cited Claudio L. Planting healthier indoor air. Environ Health Perspect. 2011;119:A426–A427. Park S, Mattson R. Ornamental indoor plants in hospital rooms enhanced health outcomes of patients recovering from surgery. Journal Of Alternative & Complementary Medicine [serial online]. September 2009;15(9):975-980. Available from: CINAHL with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed April 7, 2014 Wararat Sriprapat, Parinda Suksabye, Sirintip Areephak, Polawat Klantup, Atcharaphan Waraha, Anuchit Sawattan, Paitip Thiravetyan, Uptake of toluene and ethylbenzene by plants: Removal of volatile indoor air contaminants, Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, Volume 102, April 2014, Pages 147-151, ISSN 0147-6513,http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoenv.2014.01.032 (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0147651314000360) Keywords: Phytoremediation; Toluene; Ethylbenzene; Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) Zhongjun Xu, Li Wang, Haiping Hou, Formaldehyde removal by potted plant–soil systems, Journal of Hazardous Materials, Volume 192, Issue 1, 15 August 2011, Pages 314-318, ISSN 0304-3894, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2011.05.020. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304389411006583) Keywords: Formaldehyde removal; Spider plant; Aloe; Golden pothos; Soil photo credit: http://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/tag/indoor-plants/

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