Cape Town - As homes become more insulated and efficient, they also make it easier to trap indoor air pollutants. Chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde and ammonia can come from household items and pollute your home's atmosphere without any visual warning.
Neglecting the quality of the air you breathe on a daily basis could result in serious consequences. There's no need to dish out hundreds of dollars on expensive appliances when you've got Mother Nature. According to Nasa there are plenty of plants that soak up harmful particles in the air and release fresh oxygen - all while adding a decorative touch.
Where does it all come from?
One of the scariest things about indoor air pollution is the seemingly harmless nature of its many sources. Listed below are some of the most common ways a home can become polluted.
- Glues and adhesives
- Carpets (especially new carpets)
- Chemicals in household cleaners (instead of using poisonous household cleaners you can make your own natural household cleaners)
- Foam insulation materials
- Pressed-wood products (plywood, particle board and medium-density fiberboard)
If plants are good enough for the pioneers of space travel then they must be doing something right. The plants listed below are 10 of the most effective air filters Mother Nature has to offer:
1. English Ivy (Hedera Helix)
The English Ivy is ideal for pots because its invasive nature allows it to spread easily. Research found it to be particularly useful in eliminating airborne fecal-matter particles. The plant is also great for a family with smokers in it. Its ability to soak up carcinogens from second-hand smoke helps to purify small areas. It's also versatile when it comes to growing conditions and doesn't require much maintenance.
2. Golden Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum)
Nasa considered this plant one of the most effective choices for eliminating formaldehyde. People that have struggled to keep plants alive can rejoice - this one is incredibly hard to kill. It doubles as an effective eliminator of carbon monoxide. The vines grow quickly and look great suspended.
3. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis Exaltata Bostoniensis)
This lush plant functions really well as a natural air humidifier. While it's busy adding humidity to the environment it also does a great job eliminating formaldehyde. Its large feathered ferns span as large as 1.5m and allow just a single plant to have a noticeable impact.
4. Dracaena (Dracaena Deremensis)
The long striped leaves of this plant can easily thrive indoors with only small amounts of sunlight and moderate watering. It's an excellent way to eliminate trichloroethylene that comes from solvents and varnishes. A single plant can grow over 3 metres tall, but pruning will keep it short if you prefer.
5. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
The Bamboo Palm can easily fit into smaller areas with indirect lighting. Nasa found it to be one of the best air filters for benzene and trichloroethylene, and a great humidifier. This palm is a bit smaller than others and easy to grow in shady areas. It releases a good deal of moisture into the air and is resistant to insect infestation.
6. Dragon Tree (Dracaena Marginata)
This plant is a widely popular option for office spaces and homes for its attractive look and effective purifying power. It pulls xylene - a chemical released from car exhaust, paints, and cigarettes - from the air with little need for maintenance. It can also be potted together and trained to grow into a braid for visual appeal and added purification.
7. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
The Peace Lily is one of the most visually-appealing plants on the list with its unique white flowers. It boasts one of the highest transpiration rates on the list as well. Use it to remove trichloroethylene, benzene, acetone, and alcohols from the air. Just be cautious of the plants high toxicity and keep it out of reach of children and pets.
8. Lady Palm (Rhapis Excelsa)
The Lady Palm requires a lot of watering during the spring and summer, but makes up for it with its heavy resistance to insects. The lush leaves of this palm grow thick and with rich colour. Its said to be a versatile and effective filter for multiple indoor pollutants.
9. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)
The Spider Plant requires natural light, but shouldn't be exposed directly to the sun. It thrives in moist environments with bi-weekly watering and grows at impressive speeds. Owners prefer to place these plants near the fireplace and kitchen where carbon monoxide may build.
10. Snake Plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata)
The Snake Plant is unique in that it sucks in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen during the night. Many people choose to keep it in their bedroom or carpeted living room. It's simple to take care of and prevents the formaldehyde that leaks from your carpet and wood furniture from sticking around in the air.