Houseplants Remove Indoor Air Pollutants

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Trees and other outdoor plants play a major role in producing oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide and reducing levels of many types of air pollutants. If you have the space, planting trees is a good way to improve the environment, reduce carbon dioxide buildup and provide habitat for many birds and small mammals. In addition, fruit or nut trees can also provide many years of delicious and nutritious food.

Houseplants can also improve indoor environments.  Several studies have reported that keeping indoor plants can reduce levels of many indoor pollutants such as particulates, nitrogen and sulfur oxides and volatile organic chemicals such as formaldehyde, solvents like toluene and many pesticides.  A recent research study measured the effects of the Ficus benjamina (common Ficus) and Fatsia japonica (an evergreen shrub) on indoor air pollution.  It was found that these 2 houseplants could remove about 80% of low levels of formaldehyde in the room after about 5 hours. This research was published by Kim et al. in the July 2008 American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) Journal. Other studies suggest that indoor houseplants and flowers may improve mood in humans.

On the negative side, some people are allergic to the pollen and other parts of houseplants.  Treating houseplants with pesticides (especially the neurotoxic organophosphate and carbamate pesticides) can also cause or worsen human health problems such as asthma, headache and poorer memory and concentration.

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