Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How to grow FRESH air

Bleatings from EnviRambo.

With Healthy Child Healthy World focusing on clean air and water for the month of August and Going Green Mama suggesting houseplants as a step to cleaner air in our homes, I thought this post would be appropriate for today. It was originally published on my personal blog way back when I first started, but is still relevant for today.

The air inside your home may be up to 10 times polluted as the air outside. Considering we spend 65% of our time in our homes and up to 90% of time indoors all together, the quality of air we breathe is something to think about.

Pollutants enter our homes in a variety of ways. Attached garages can bring automobile exhaust inside. We track pesticides and other chemicals in on the bottom of our shoes. Heavily scented laundry products waft toxic chemicals. Gas cooking appliances vent carbon monoxide. A Teflon treated non-stick pan overheated on the stove releases PFOA/PTFE's. Automatic dishwasher detergent containing chlorine combines with heat to create dioxin, a probable human carcinogen. The paint on our walls off gas VOC's. Cleaning supplies and personal care products we use host hoards of dangerous chemicals. Dry cleaning hanging in the closet discharges PERC. Burning candles/incense and air fresheners do more than scent the air we breathe. The furniture we sit on and the mattress we sleep on are laden with flame retardants containing PBDE. We surround ourselves with a lengthy list.

One way to combat the constant barrage of self inflicted pollution is by adding a little green to your household. Green plants that is. Plants influence air quality within a personal breathing zone of 6 to 8 cu. ft. In 1980 NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center first discovered that houseplants could remove VOCs from sealed test chambers. Houseplants are effective in removing Acetone, Methyl alcohol, Ethyl acetate, Benzene, Ammonia, Trichloroethylene, Formaldehyde and Xylene as well as bioeffluents. Plants also release phytochemicals that suppress mold spores and bacteria found in air. Research shows that plant filled rooms contain 50 to 60 percent fewer airborne molds and bacteria than rooms without plants.

According to the book How to Grow Fresh Air, 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office by Dr. B.C. Wolverton here are a few of the top rated plants.

Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) rated 8.5 out of 10
Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) - 8.5
Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) - 8.4
*All require semi-sun & 65-75 degree home temperature. The two palms pictures above are of my 8 foot tree.

Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta) - 8.0
*Semi-sun to semi-shade & 60-80 degrees. Especially effective at removing formaldehyde. It is the taller plant on right side table top, deep green/burgundy leaves.

Dracena "Janet Craig" (Dracena deremensis "Janet Craig") - 7.8
*Semi-shade; will tolerate dimly lit areas, but growth will be slow. 60-75 degrees.
It is one of the best plants for removing trichloroethylene.
Little plant pictured above to the right of the rubber plant.

English Ivy (Hedera helix) - 7.8
*Semi-sun to semi-shade. Day: 60-70 degrees; night: 50-60 degrees.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata "Bostoniensis") - 7.5
*Semi-sun. Day: 65-75 degrees; night: 50-65 degrees.
It is the best for removing air pollutants, especially formaldehyde, and for adding humidity to the indoor environment. Shown above on left table top, back side.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.) - 7.5
*Semi-sun to semi-shade. Day: 60-75 degrees; night: 55-68 degrees.
The peace lily excels in removal of all alcohols, acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde.

Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) - 7.5
*Semi-shade to shade & 65-75 degrees.
This plant is damn near indestructible! It can withstand severe neglect. Great for those with black thumbs!

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) - 5.4
*Semi-sun to semi-shade. Day: 65-75 degrees; night: 55-65 degrees. Again, a good plant for the growing challenged. (Shown further down.) I have had this one since I moved to college over 14 years ago. It has survived drought, famine, no sun, all sun. Hell, it even froze a time or two! Very hardy.

Green plants are a fairly inexpensive addition to your home. Plus, they are an easy way to decorate.

They also serve more than an ornamental purpose.

Herbs in a sunny window provide a kick to your cooking.

Flowering plants provide color and hope during the long winter months.

Aloe vera soothes sunburn and minor cuts.

Many plants can be easily propagated from cuttings. Perhaps a friend or relative would give you a leaf or small cutting to start your own plant. Or, maybe you have some to share. Leaves from African Violets can be broke off, stuck in dirt and will grown into a new plant.

Jade cuttings can be placed in water until roots form and then planted.

The off shoots of Spider plants are easily rooted to transform into their own plants as well.

Consider adding a plant to the areas you hang out in the most. Next to the couch, on your computer desk, near your bed, in the kitchen. No room is off limits, think bioeffluents!

Plants are cheap or free if you use cuttings. They improve the air quality, comfort and overall aesthetic of your home. They are quiet and require no electricity.
How pure is the air you breathe?


Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

I second the comment about the golden pothos being indestructible. I've gone on vacation for a month and come home to find it still going strong.

Ross4Teflon said...

Hi -- I applaud the idea of creating a greener home, and because there's so much misinformation out there about Teflon, I'm not surprised that you are concerned. I'm a representative of DuPont though, and hope you'll let me share some information with you and your readers, so that everyone can make truly informed decisions. Regulatory agencies, consumer groups and health associations all have taken a close look at Teflon. This article highlights what they found -- the bottom line is that you can use Teflon without worry.


I'd truly be glad to share additional information about it if you are interested, and appreciate your consideration of this comment. Cheers, Ross.

Caitlin Dacey said...



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