NASA, bless it, has been busy experimenting with our houseplants. It has completed a two-year study confirming what we’ve known all of our lives: Houseplants produce oxygen. The news here is plants also filter common chemicals polluting our living spaces. That’s a pleasant surprise.
NASA, bless it, has been busy experimenting with our houseplants.
It has completed a two-year study confirming what we’ve known all of our lives: Houseplants produce oxygen. The news here is plants also filter common chemicals polluting our living spaces. That’s a pleasant surprise.
I have a plant room with about 80 tropicals, some large, all growing happily. When I walk in there, it smells like spring. The plants absorb carbon dioxide and exhale pure oxygen.
OK, we learned photosynthesis in high school. NASA has taken the concept to extremes. It discovered some plants attack common household pollutants, the bad boys that constantly threaten our health.
We can count on our plants to keep our indoor air clean. The magic number is 15 to 20 medium-size plants. These will clean the air in an 1,800- to 2,000-square-foot house, but even a half-dozen plants will make a difference. Your goal could be a plant in every room.
You must like houseplants to take advantage of this. You must make a commitment to learn about them and take care of each one. After that, the air purifying is simply a big bonus.
NASA says some of the nicest, most decorative houseplants are the best air scrubbers. They share a quality of being the easiest to grow. A key is plant size and number and size of leaves.
Most houses are polluted with benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. These chemicals are in inks, plastic, rubber, waxed paper, facial tissue, cleaning agents, paints, adhesives and on and on.
NASA says this “indoor air pollution is a realistic threat to human health.” Homeowners turn to mechanical filters to fight it. Consumer Reports tells us many air cleaners are too weak to adequately filter household air. They are expensive, use electricity and often need costly filter replacements.
Plants cost a lot less, require minimal care and, unlike air filters, are nice looking, a perfect addition to your home decor. They fit a green lifestyle. And they eat the home pollution 24/7.
Another plus: Plants add humidity to furnace-dried atmospheres, and that makes your heat feel warmer (and you’ll use less).
Note that it’s a good idea to keep plants up and away from children and animals as they may be toxic if eaten.
NASA doesn’t say it, but the lesson is obvious: Be sure to take some houseplants on your next space odyssey.
Jim Hillibish writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.