Pollution: The Indoor Problem

Air pollution. We all know that it can be a problem, all those cars, trucks, and carpet. Wait, carpet? Yes, carpet. There are numerous sources of pollutants in the home and office. Including the computer that you are reading this on now. Why should this bother you? With the increasing number of highly energy-efficient homes and offices the problem will continue to grow. An energy efficient home is sealed very well, it’s a long way from the old mud-in-the-cracks insulation that log cabins used. The effect of sealing our homes so tightly is that we create a pocket environment. Pollutants can now build up in greater concentration because they can’t ventilate to the outside.

There are three simple ways of fixing your pollution woes. The first two are fairly straight forward. The last one is a little bit more cryptic. How are you suppose to clean the air? What are the proven methods?

Source Control: Eliminate or control the sources of pollution.

For this you will need to do some research and maybe some testing. Many items, depending on the material, production process, and age will give off different pollutants in differing amounts.

Ventilation: Dilute and exhaust pollutants through outdoor air ventilation.

Open your doors and windows. No you don’t have to heat the whole neighborhood.

Air Cleaning: Remove pollutants through proven air cleaning methods.

You may have seen ads for “air purifiers” that “clean” the air by producing ozone. Don’t get one of these. Ozone is unhealthy in concentrated doses. The ozone will build up because your home is sealed. That is what got us into this mess in the first place. Don’t worry you have other options.

Houseplants. Don’t groan. Houseplants are very effective at cleaning indoor air, and plants have long been a proven method of cleaning air of pollutants. Green thumbs are not a requirement. There are are a variety of plants to choose from. Each plant cleans a different pollutants better than the others. Here are the top plants according to a NASA study from the late 1980s:

1. Philodendron scandens `oxycardium’, heartleaf philodendron
2. Philodendron domesticum, elephant ear philodendron
3. Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana’, cornstalk dracaena
4. Hedera helix, English ivy
5. Chlorophytum comosum, spider plant
6. Dracaena deremensis `Janet Craig’, Janet Craig dracaena
7. Dracaena deremensis `Warneckii’, Warneck dracaena
8. Ficus benjamina, weeping fig
9. Epipiremnum aureum, golden pothos
10. Spathiphyllum `Mauna Loa’, peace lily
11. Philodendron selloum, selloum philodendron
12. Aglaonema modestum, Chinese evergreen
13. Chamaedorea sefritzii, bamboo or reed palm
14. Sansevieria trifasciata, snake plant
15. Dracaena marginata , red-edged dracaena

All of these plants should be easily found at your local nursery. If you are scared by the scientific names just print this off an show the nursery attendant the list.

The study suggests 15 plants for a 2,000 square foot home; a good variety of these common houseplants is the best way to help improve air quality. The plants be grown in six inch containers or larger. If they plants are too small they will not be as effective.

My favorite plants are the spider plant(number 5) and the heartleaf philodendron(number 1).

Not only will they clean the air around you, but they make things look better.

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