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10 Plants for Removing Indoor Toxins

Common indoor plants may provide a valuable weapon in the fight against rising levels of indoor air pollution

Common indoor plants may provide a valuable weapon in the fight against rising levels of indoor air pollution. NASA scientists are finding them to be surprisingly useful in absorbing potentially harmful gases and cleaning the air inside homes, indoor public spaces and office buildings.

According to the research, the indoor pollutants that affect our health are:

  • Formaldehyde. Found in particle board and upholstered furniture, carpets, cigarette smoke, plastic tableware and natural gas. It can cause allergies, mucous membrane irritation, asthma and various skin diseases.
  • Trichloroethylene. Found in printing inks, paints, lacquers, carpet and fabric cleaners, and chlorinated water. Tetrachloroethylene is a strong carcinogen that causes eye and skin irritation, damages the liver and kidneys and provokes psychomotor agitation.
  • Benzene. Found in paint, lacquers, varnishes, cleaning products, liquid soaps, rubber and cigarette smoke. This carcinogen that accumulates in adipose tissue can cause leukemia, nervous excitement (like that caused by alcohol), shortness of breath and convulsions. It also lowers blood pressure.
  • Ammonia. Found in computer parts, cigarette smoke, and household cleaners. It causes a dry and sore throat and cough, provokes chest pain, as well as swelling of the larynx and lungs.
  • Xylene. This is used to make plastics, paint, lacquers and glue. Xylene can also be found in vehicle exhausts, leather products and tobacco smoke. It’s irritating to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract.

Top ten plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air –

1. Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

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Also called the “Butterfly Palm”. An upright houseplant that is somewhat vase shaped. Specimen plants can reach 10 to 12 foot in height. Prefers a humid area to avoid tip damage. Requires pruning. When selecting an Areca palm look for plants with larger caliber trunks at the base of the plant. Plants that have pencil thin stems tend to topple over and are quite difficult to maintain.

2. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)

 

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This durable palm species adapts well to most interiors. The Rhapis are some of the easiest palms to grow, but each species has its own particular environment and culture requirements. The “Lady Palm” grows slowly, but can grow to more than 14′ in height with broad clumps often having a diameter as wide as their height.

 

3. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

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Also called the “reed palm”, this palm prefers bright indirect light. New plants will lose of some interior foliage as they acclimate to indoor settings. This plant likes to stay uniformly moist, but does not like to be over-watered or to sit in standing water. Indoor palms may attract spider mites which can be controlled by spraying with a soapy solution.

 

4. Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta)

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Grows very well indoors, preferring semi-sun lighting. Avoid direct sunlight, especially in summer. Young plants may need to be supported by a stake. The Ficus grows to 8’ with a spread of 5’. Wear gloves when pruning, as the milky sap may irritate the skin. Water thoroughly when in active growth, then allow the soil to become fairly dry before watering again. In winter keep slightly moist.

5. Dracaena “Janet Craig” (Dracaena deremensis)

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The Dracaena grows to 10’ with a spread of 3’. Easy to grow, these plants do best in bright indirect sunlight coming from the east/west. They can adapt to lower light levels if the watering is reduced. Keep the soil evenly moist and mist frequently with warm water. Remove any dead leaves. Leaf tips will go brown if the plant is under watered but this browning may be trimmed.

6. Philodendron (Philodendron)

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The Peace Lily plant is a very common houseplant which is known for its brilliant ability to remove toxic agents such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air. It also can help you get rid of toluene and xylene in your home. Moreover, cleaning the dust from the leaves will make this natural air purifier even more effective.

7. Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

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A hardy, drought-tolerant and long-lived plant, the Dwarf Date Palm needs a bright spot which is free of drafts. It grows slowly, reaching heights of 8-10’. The Dwarf Date Palm should not be placed near children’s play areas because it has sharp needle-like spines arranged near the base of the leaf stem. These can easily penetrate skin and even protective clothing.

8. Ficus Alii (Ficus macleilandii “Alii”)

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The Ficus Alii grows easily indoors, and resists insects. It prefers a humid environment and low to medium light when grown indoors. The Ficus Aliii should not be placed near heating or air conditioning vents, or near drafts because this could cause leaf loss. Soil should be kept moist but allowed to dry between watering.

9. Schefflera

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Schefflera has proved to be effective at soaking up formaldehyde, toluene and benzenefrom the air. With its glossy foliage that radiate out from a central stem, the Schefflera plant is also called an umbrella tree in some countries.

10. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

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The Peace Lily plant is a very common houseplant which is known for its brilliant ability to remove toxic agents such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air. It also can help you get rid of toluene and xylene in your home. Moreover, cleaning the dust from the leaves will make this natural air purifier even more effective.

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