The beneficial effects of houseplants in home and office
Houseplants can clean your air, eliminating chemicals, mould and bacteria; they produce oxygen and moisture. On your desk, they can create a personal breathing zone filtering chemicals emitted by computer screens, in your bedroom succulents, orchids and bromeliads provide oxygen at night.
Last century NASA, after finding a hazardous build-up of toxins in spacecraft, discovered that houseplants were able to remove toxic chemicals in sealed chambers. This lead to a series of detailed studies on the filtering capacity of plants in relation to the most common chemicals found in indoor environments.
Indoor pollutants include the chemicals found in modern products, electronics and furnishings, particularly formaldehyde, xylene and toluene, ammonia found in cleaning products, moulds and bacteria and the 150 bio-effluents emitted by the human body.
The poisonous nature of these substances has been highlighted recently in the sick building syndrome where energy efficient buildings seal in the toxins and the people living in them get ill.
What some house plants are good at:
While all houseplants filter and clean the air, two of the best for:
Formaldehyde which enters our homes in refuse sacks, paper products, fabrics, plywood, chipboard, resins, gas ovens are the Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ and the Rubber plant Ficus Robusta.
Xylene and toluene – in adhesives, printers, computer screens, photocopiers – the Areca palm Chrysalidocarpus lutescens and the Moth orchid Phalaenopsis sp.
Ammonia – cleaning products and bio effluents -the Lady palm Rhapis excelsa and the King of Hearts Homalomena wallisii
Author and photo by Kate Parenti