February’s here and so is the winter. For some of you, that may mean cozy blankets, warm fires, hot cups of tea, and evenings at home. For me, it is a welcome respite from hot flashes, scorching sun and trying to find air conditioning. But for all of us here on the east coast, winter ushers in a season of dry heat, closed windows and stuffy air, trapping us inside with plenty of pollutants.
The worst of these indoor pollutants, called volatile organic compounds or VOCs, get into our homes in a variety of ways. Common household cleaners, cosmetics, fabrics, plastics, and adhesives are just a few carriers of chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichlorethylene, which have been linked to everything from asthma to cancer. We work hard to keep our bodies toxin-free by eating plenty of organic, clean foods, so why not translate that into our homes by utilizing indoor plants?
Though all plants purify our environment through a process called phytoremediation, studies have proven that seven are superior—not to mention affordable and attractive—ways to clear those toxic VOCs from our homes:
Best for Pet Owners: Two of the most effective, non-toxic options are palms and ferns. Both are champion formaldehyde destroyers, (with palms topping NASA’s most effective list), and ferns require little attention—indirect light and damp soil—making them ideal detoxers for busy people.
Best for Black Thumbs: No green thumb? No problem. In addition to ferns, beautiful dracaenas and peace lilies are hardy, easy-care plants known to remove many common toxins from your home. Peace lilies in particular are super-purifiers—they are excellent at ridding harsh ammonia from the air.
Best Multi-Taskers: Looking for a plant that can do it all? Try bromeliad, English ivy, or aloe vera. Most everyone knows that aloe has many soothing properties, but did you know that it’s extremely effective at removing formaldehyde from the air? English ivy tops NASA’s list for plant purifiers of benzene, and is also an outstanding eliminator of trichlorethylene, (a carcinogen found in adhesives and paint thinners), as well as formaldehyde. But it’s colorful bromeliad that gets the detox job done quickest. Not only has a study conducted by the American Chemical Society shown it can clear 80% of indoor pollutants in just 12 hours, it is also a formidable foe of six different chemicals, including acetone and benzene.
Yes, good health is about a healthy body but it’s also about a healthy home. Freshen up your winter, your home, and yourself with an indoor plant or two. Your body will thank you.