Indoor air quality has much to desire, and we spend quite a bit of time inside, be it office or home. It is getting more and more common knowledge that many items in our interior space off-gas, from our sofa and beds to our cabinetry.
If you have any particleboard, then you are exposed to formaldehyde from the glue. These chemicals release over time – another reason to buy used or real wood. Other sources of off-gassing include common household cleaners and air fresheners. Aside from using natural products and making informed consumer choices, what else can we do?
Back in the late 1980s, NASA conducted a survey to see which plants were the most effective at filtering out these pollutants. To this day, people still refer to this list. The five chemicals they focused on were – formaldehyde, ammonia, benzene, trichloroethylene, and xylene. Some the effects include eye irritation, dizziness, swelling of the lungs, and increased heart rate, the severity of which depends on the amount and duration of exposure, as well as the overall health of the individual. To help filter out these toxins, you can choose from 18 common houseplants, some of which filter some of these five while others filter all of them, such as the Peace Lily.
The caveat is that some of these plants, like the Peace Lily, are toxic to dogs, cats, rabbits, and parrots, if eaten.
The 18 plants are Dwarf Date Palm, Boston Fern, Kimberly Queen Fern, Spider Plant, Chinese Evergreen, Bamboo Palm, Weeping Fig, Devil’s Ivy, Flamingo Lily, Lily Turf, Broadleaf Lady Palm, Barberton Daisy, Cornstalk Dracaena, English Ivy, Varigated Snake Plant, Red-Edged Dracaena, Peace Lily, and Florist’s Chrysanthemum.
|Dwarf Date Palm||Formaldehyde + Xylene||Dogs + Cats – OK|
|Boston Fern||Formaldehyde + Xylene||Dogs + Cats – OK|
|Kimberly Queen Fern||Formaldehyde + Xylene||Dogs + Cats – OK|
|Spider Plant||Formaldehyde + Xylene||Dogs + Cats – OK|
|Bamboo Palm||Formaldehyde + Xylene||Dogs + Cats – OK|
|Weeping Fig||Formaldehyde + Xylene||Not pet-friendly|
|Chinese Evergreen||Formaldehyde + Benzene||Not pet-friendly|
|Devil’s Ivy||Formaldehyde + Xylene + Benzene||Not pet-friendly|
|Flamingo Lily||Formaldehyde + Xylene + Ammonia||Not pet-friendly|
|Broadleaf Lady Palm||Formaldehyde + Xylene + Ammonia||Dogs + Cats – OK|
|Lily Turf||Trichloroethylene + Xylene + Ammonia||Dogs + Cats – OK|
|Barberton Daisy||Trichloroethylene + Formaldehyde + Xylene||Dogs + Cats – OK|
|Cornstalk Dracaena||Trichloroethylene + Formaldehyde + Benzene||Not pet-friendly|
|English Ivy||Trichloroethylene + Formaldehyde + Benzene + Xylene||Not pet-friendly|
|Varigated Snake Plant||Trichloroethylene + Formaldehyde + Benzene + Xylene||Not pet-friendly|
|Red-Edged Dracaena||Trichloroethylene + Formaldehyde + Benzene + Xylene + Ammonia||Not pet-friendly|
|Peace Lily||Trichloroethylene + Formaldehyde + Benzene + Xylene + Ammonia||Not pet-friendly|
|Florist’s Chrysanthemum||Trichloroethylene + Formaldehyde + Benzene + Xylene + Ammonia||Not pet-friendly|