Our homes are full of all sorts of toxic chemicals, whether they be from carpeting, insulation, various fabrics, laminate floors and countertops, or just toxic cleaning supplies. And while we can do our best to safeguard our air (and thus our health) against these toxins, sometimes good ole’ Mother Nature has the best defense against some of the ingredients that come along with living in the modern world.
Although there are many different chemicals we would like to eliminate from our diet, the three most common ones found in our homes are benzene (a component of crude oil and solvents), formaldehyde (a colorless gas recently added to the Report on Carcinogens linking it to cancer) and trichloroethylenes (chlorinated hydrocarbons mostly used in industrial solvents). A study by Dr. Bill Wolverton, a former research scientist at NASA, resulted in a comprehensive list of the most effective plants to remove toxic chemicals from our air. Here’s 10 of the plants from the study that you should consider having at home to clean your air:
Ficus benjamina / weeping fig – Sold in stores as just a Ficus, this is a species of fig tree, native to south and southeast Asia and Australia.
Philodendron domesticum / elephant ear philodendron – While poisonous to dogs and cats, philodendrons are especially great at removing formaldehyde.
Chamaedorea sefritzii / bamboo or reed palm – Small palms native to subtropical and tropical regions of the Americas.
Spathiphyllum Mauna Loa / peace lily – A popular houseplant, it can be mildly toxic to humans and animals.
Dracaena deremensis / Warneckii – A flowering plant species native throughout tropical Africa, with a tolerance of a wide range of indoor conditions.
Hedera helix / English ivy -A species of ivy native to most of Europe and western Asia, and is labeled as an invasive species in many parts of the U.S.
Aglaonema modestum / Chinese evergreen – A native of Southern China and Northern Thailand and well suited for the home.
Chlorophytum comosum / spider plant – A grasslike perennial in the lily family, the spider plant is easy to grow and propagate and is very tolerant.
Dracaena deremensis Janet Craig/ Janet Craig dracaena – Dark green sword-shaped leaves, the Janet Craig is named for the daughter of nurseryman Robert Craig.
Mother-in-Law’s Tongue / Sansevieria Laurentii – Native to Africa, this plant has long spear-shaped green leaves and is pretty much indestructable.
Today’s homes are sealed-up and energy efficient, which is for the most part a good thing — except that it also means that any toxic chemicals found in the home can be trapped inside along with you and your family. So in addition to purchasing air-cleaning plants to have indoors, be sure to always air out your home by opening doors and windows when the weather allows. Your home is probably where you spend the majority of your time, and keeping it as free from toxins as possible is vital to your health.