Today, many people are taking indoor jobs in enclosed offices and buildings. Many would even prefer to stay home and rest during their day-off or free time instead of enjoying it outside with family and friends. Though staying indoors may have its benefits such as protection from unpredictable weather conditions and prevention from inhaling contaminated air outside, some studies suggests that staying indoors can also be a risk to one’s health.
There are volatile organic compounds or VOCs like ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and xylene that are present in our home and office furnishings. It is believed that exposure to these VOCs can cause immediate headache, dizziness, eye irritations, respiratory tract infections and even cancer.
Twenty-nine years ago, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA conducted a Clean Air study headed by Dr. B. C. Wolverton together with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America. The study discovered 18 indoor plants which are effective in filtering these harmful toxins and pollutants from the air. Out of 18 indoor plants mentioned by NASA, 10 of these plants can be found in the Philippines, these are Bayabang, Balete, Ribbon plant, Philippine Evergreen, Anthurium, Rhapis, Daisy, Fortune plant, striped dumb cane and the Chrysanthemum.
The Bayabang, Balete and Ribbon plant filters out both Formaldehyde and Xylene chemicals that cause throat and mouth irritation. Aside from removing Formaldehyde and Xylene chemicals in the air, the Anthurium and Rhapis plants also play an important role in cleaning the air by filtering ammonia which causes eye irritation, coughing and sore throat.
Bayabang (Source: plants.stuartxchange.net)
Balete (Source: insights-philippines.de)
Ribbon Plant (Source: burlake.com)
Similar to the Anthurium and Rhapis plant which removes Formaldehyde and Xylene toxins in the air, the Daisy plant also filters the same chemicals including Trichloroethylene, which has been linked to health effects like dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and even coma. This chemical may be found in printing inks and paints which we commonly use.
Anthurium (Source: plantwriter.com)
Rhapis (Source: planten-kopen.com)
Benzene is another harmful chemical present in the air which causes an increase in one’s heart rate and can also result in unconsciousness, in some cases. It is used to make plastics and can also be found in tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust, glue, paint and furniture wax. It has been discovered that the Fortune plant is effective in filtering this chemical along with trichloroethylene and formaldehyde toxins.
The striped dumb cane is also effective in removing four of the five harmful toxins mentioned namely – trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene and xylene. Only the Chrysanthemum has the ability to filter out the five harmful toxins and chemicals mentioned.
Striped Dumb Cane
“It is believed that most of these air pollutants are filtered out as part of the plant’s photosynthesis activities. The air cleansing process is ongoing, so long as the plant is growing and healthy.” Prof. Chris Enroth of the University of Illinois Extension explained.
Though there are already products manufactured for the purpose of purifying one’s home or office, having indoor plants is a cheap and economic way in having a safe, clean and chemical-free atmosphere.