Detox your environment with houseplants

by EcoStreet on October 31, 2007

in EcoHouse, Toxic World


In our efforts to save energy resources, we are increasingly sealing our homes and other buildings off from the outside air. This also means that we are sealing in gases from synthetic materials that we furnish and equip our homes and offices with. As a result, indoor air pollution has become a widespread problem and ranks as one of the top five threats to public health. Yet many people are unaware of this problem, and are inadvertently putting themselves and their families at risk.

What synthetic materials? What gases?

In our modern society, where we expect goods to be more affordable, items that used to be made out of natural materials like solid wood are being replaced with cheaper pressed wood and synthetic materials held together with a variety of glues and resins. These synthetic materials release hundreds of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the air. Common household items responsible for chemical emissions include upholstery, curtains, plywood, particleboard, stains and varnishes, paints, paper towels, tissues, carpets, permanent-press clothing, fabrics.

What are the symptoms to watch for?

Symptoms of “sick building syndrome” include allergies, asthma, eye, nose and throat irritations, fatigue, headaches, nervous-system disorders, respiratory congestion and sinus congestion.

What can I do about it?

Prevention is better than cure, and there’s no better way to avoid VOCs in the home than to eliminate them. Fortunately, you won’t have to rebuild, redecorate and refurnish your house to achieve this. You can dramatically influence air quality by using certain plants in your home or office.

Click here to see a list of plants that will purify your environment.

Using these plants will effectively clear the air in your home of most common airborne toxins. To achieve optimal detoxification, you will need to place between 15 and 20 air purifying plants in a home with the area of 1800 square feet (170 sq. metres).

For more information, click here.

Recommended reading: How To Grow Fresh Air by B.C. Wolverton

See you at the garden centre!

Advertisement: Reduce your CO2 footprint by as much as 2 tonnes/year & save up to £150 on your energy bills.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucien Beauley November 1, 2007 at 9:58 pm

A very well put together article and very true about having indoor houseplants to “clean-up” the air. Thanks


Ellen Rulseh November 4, 2007 at 2:02 pm

Thanks especially for the list of specific house plants and the toxins they mitigate.


StacyJa November 5, 2007 at 7:09 pm

That list was useful, but there are hundreds of common houseplants.

Not that finding exactly what percentage of contaminants they remove is absolutely necessary. I would still blanket the house with them if they had no air-cleaning properties.

So, a longer list would be nice, but not necessary.


G in INdiana November 17, 2007 at 7:09 pm

Also make sure, if you have indoor pets, to cross check the list with one that tells you which plants can injure or kill your pet.


Simon Green September 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Sick building syndrome is especially a problem in rooms with few to no windows, plants here will really make a difference.


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