We’ve all heard a lot about indoor air quality in recent years – whether it’s severe issues such as sick building syndrome and mold, or high levels of carbon dioxide caused by office mates too full of hot air for their own good – I think we can all agree that the air we breathe is pretty darn important.
Air quality is not as straightforward as you might think. Issues impacting air quality start as early as the building construction phase – Did you know there’s such a thing as making a building too air-tight? Or that if a building is not properly plumbed and/or ventilated, a brand new building can quickly grow mold and/or harbor legionnaire’s bacteria? Then there’s all the crazy stuff we bring into the building once it’s constructed, like paint, carpeting, adhesives for flooring, piping and the chemicals we use to clean the building every week. Things that can cause cancers, asthma, allergies, auto-immune disorders and other diseases. Kind of makes you want to flee to the outdoors immediately, or at the very least, open a window.
So when I stumbled across an unexpected, but very cool article about air quality that talked about the benefits of using certain plants to help purify air of all of these crazy chemicals, I got pretty excited. I’d always heard that plants can remove carbon dioxide – the stuff we breathe OUT – and add oxygen – the stuff we breathe IN, but never have I heard of plants that actually remove TOXINS from the air. Toxins like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene (I don’t even KNOW what that last one is, but it sounds TERRIFYING). So check it out:
- Aloe Plants, Bamboo Palms, Spider Plants and Boston Ferns remove formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is not just for do-it-yourself embalming kits, it’s more common than you think. It’s in a lot of permanent press fabrics, air fresheners and furniture or cabinets made of plywood, MDF or particle board.
- Gerbera Daisies and English Ivy remove benzene. Benzene is a common household chemical and a carcinogen. English Ivy also removes formaldehyde and is said to be great for asthma sufferers.
- Queen Ferns remove toluene (wasn’t that the bar planet in Star Wars?) formaldehyde and xylene (a chemical found in plastics and solvents).
- Moth Orchids remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds) contained in many paints.
- Mums and Peace Lilies remove benzene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde and ammonia. Peace lilies are also great at removing mold spores from the air, making it great for bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms.
If you’re like me, and you have very little knowledge or finesse with plants, you can get detailed information on how NOT to kill the above plants (and several others) at the link below:
Plants are a great way to improve your environment, however, they may not solve all air quality issues. If you have an air quality problem or experience symptoms like headaches or respiratory distress, we recommend calling a professional to test your building. Air quality problems can range from minor to severe and generally do not improve with time if left untreated.
Have Questions About Indoor Air Quality? Call Us Today At 508.763.3738
Many HVACR companies, like Advance Air, can identify and address common building ventilation problems early on before they cause serious air quality problems. However, once severe issues such as mold or Legionnaire’s bacteria have developed, only licensed air quality specialists who are properly trained and certified should be called to identification and remediation. Act now and you just might avoid severe problems later!