Nature's Air Filters

Even though we're finding new indoor air pollutants all the time, we're at a point where we know who the repeat offenders are. Central air systems, new flooring, cigarettes, cleaning products - all of these things have repeatedly been shown to decrease the quality of our air. There are ways to eliminate some of these pollutants, but what are we to do about the remaining pollen, dust, bacteria, mold, etc.? We're to turn to house plants, of course.

Less than two weeks ago, the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center (MAAC) published an article pointing out five specific plants that have been shown to be "effective at filtering out VOCs." The MAAC article cites studies conducted by NASA, the Journal of American Society of Horticultural Science, and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America. Without further ado, here are the five plants that you might consider purchasing during your next trip to the market.

1. Aloe Vera

Aloe is a succulent that has been found to filter out benzene and formaldehyde, which might be found in chemical cleaners or paints. Aloe gets bonus points for two reasons. First, it's easy to care for. If anything, you're at risk for over-watering. It gets watered once every week or two - less in the winter. Then, when the summer rolls around and you get your first sunburn, crack open a leaf and let the gel soothe your skin.

2. Spider Plant
Admit it - your grandmother has one of these. You can discuss aesthetic benefits with her, but this post is about your health, so let's get down to it. In addition to filtering the benzene and formaldehyde that your aloe plants are already taking care of, the spider plant filters out xylene, "a solvent found in rubber and leather products," as well as carbon monoxide.

3. Peace Lily
The Peace Lily might be considered a jack of all trades - it takes care of pollutants such as ammonia, benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde, and it looks good doing it. It's compact, too, which means it's easy to put anywhere in the house. Allergy sufferers beware - the peace lily does contribute pollen.

4. Snake Plant
The snake plant is "one of the best options for filtering out formaldehyde," and is also a great contender for bathroom decor as it does well in humid, low-light environments.

5. Garden Mum
If you're going to have plants scattered about, you might as well add some color to your house. The garden mum is another jack of all trades, filtering out ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene. Bonus points if you transfer the mums from your own garden into the kitchen or living room.

It's estimated that we spend up to 90% of our lives indoors - knowing this, there's no reason not to add a few plants throughout the house. On top of protecting our physical health, it's possible that the plants can give you a mental boost as well. Still interested in learning about keeping plants indoors? Here's a video for you to enjoy.

Readers - which plants do you keep in your homes?

Works Cited/Additional Reading
MAAC Article
Treating Aloe Plants
Growing Mums