A healthy environment is vital to our wellbeing, both emotional and physical, and houseplants are said to contribute to both of these.
Houseplants can filter out toxins from the air, as well as replenish oxygen levels. NASA estimates that you should have at least one plant per 100 square feet.
But what houseplants should you be getting, and which work well to detoxify the air? We’ve rounded up the best ones below.
What’s in the air?
Trichloroethylene is found in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives and paint stripper/remover. If you use a lot of paints or varnishes for your work – or hobby – you should really consider a plant that is effective at removing trichloroethylene from the air.
Trichloroethylene is found to be associated with excitement, dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting, and in some extreme cases can cause drowsiness and even comas.
Formaldehyde is a well-known preservative that is often found in paper bags, waxed papers, facial tissues, paper towels, table napkins, particle board, plywood panelling and synthetic fabrics.
However, short term exposure to formaldehyde is known to cause irritations, especially around the nasal area, mouth and throat, and in severe cases can cause swelling of the larynx and lungs.
Benzene is used to make plastics, resins, synthetic fibres, rubber lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides.
It can also be found in tobacco smoke, vehicle exhausts, glue, paint and furniture wax. This chemical can really build up in high pollution areas, like cities.
Exposure to benzene can cause irritation to the eyes, drowsiness, dizziness, increased heart rate, headaches and confusion. In extreme cases, exposure to benzene can even cause unconsciousness.
Xylene can be found in printing, rubber, leather, tobacco smoke and vehicle exhausts. Again, if you live in a city, xylene can really start to build up due to the vehicle fumes.
Short term exposure to xylene can cause irritation, especially to the mouth and throat, dizziness, headaches, confusion, heart problems, and liver or kidney damage. In some cases, it can even cause comas.
Ammonia is released from a variety of sources, including window cleaners, floor waxes, smelling salts and fertilizers.
Ammonia exposure can cause eye irritation, coughing and sore throats.
What plants get rid of these chemicals?
Luckily, some plants are experts are removing these harmful toxins from the air.
The chlorophytum comosum – more commonly known as the spider plant – is a top detoxifier for many households. This plant thrives in the bathroom especially, as long as it has well-drained soil and indirect light.
The spider plant works to remove both formaldehyde and xylene from the air.
The flamingo lily is another well-known plant. Instantly recognisable by its red, heart shaped flowers, it’s also a great detoxifier. The flamingo lily is great at removing xylene, formaldehyde and ammonia from the air.
The peace lily is an adaptable, low maintenance houseplant that excels at removing toxins from the air. Peace lilies remove not only all the toxins listed above, but a few more that are commonly found in the air.
Bamboo palms are a tropical houseplant that require bright, indirect sunlight in order to thrive. They’re relatively easy to grow indoors, and can remove both formaldehyde and xylene from the air.
English ivy is a low maintenance plant that is often found creeping over many a building, gate or wall across Britain. It’s also a fabulous detoxifier. Ivy is adept at removing formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and trichloroethylene from the air.
Variegated snake plant
More commonly known as the mother-in-law’s tongue, the variegated snake plant is a hardy plant that can survive almost anywhere. This amazing detoxifier, which removes trichloroethylene, benzene, formaldehyde and xylene from the air, is a definite must have for anyone who has a less-than-green thumb.
Chrysanthemums are one of the easiest plants to grow indoors and are often given as gifts. But they’re also expert detoxifiers, helping to remove all five of the toxins listed above from the air.
Keeping these plants around the home, and especially in the bedroom, can really help improve the quality of your air around the home, helping you to live a longer, healthier and happier life!