April 18, 2020

Indoor air pollution for many years has been one of the most severe environmental issues that we all face in our daily lives. The Environmental Protection Agency has consistently ranked indoor air pollution as one of the most concerning indoor dangers, primarily because the sources of pollution are everywhere inside our home. In fact, indoor air has about 30x as much pollutants than outdoor air. Just about anything that we do in a daily basis can lead to a significant amount of deterioration in the air quality of our homes. 


There are hundreds of potentially harmful chemicals that are released into the atmosphere. The use of household cleaning agents, personal care products, paint, and solvents are all examples of how these chemicals are admitted into the air on a regular basis. These chemicals are known for causing dizziness, allergic reactions, skin irritation, cancer, nausea, as well as linked to reduced productivity and impaired learning.


During the late 1970s, buildings were designed to maximize energy efficiency which would in turn help alleviate high energy costs. The way that this was done was by either super insulation or reduced fresh air exchange. With that being said, poor air quality has been implemented into our daily lives. Which is why NASA led a project called the NASA Clean Air Study to research ways to clean the air in space stations.


Just image space. Space presents the toughest possible challenge for ensuring safe, breathable air, since it is an airless vacuum. There is no way to get fresh air by opening a window. That is not possible. Even if engineers were able to build a habitat that is toxin and chemical pollutant free, our own waste products would cause indoor air pollution.


Two ways that NASA plans on creating a safe and breathable environment for the astronauts; is by reducing off-gassing from building materials and furnishings before they are installed, as well as use plants and their associated soil microorganisms. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis, and some remove volatile organic pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.


Common Indoor Pollutants

Benzene

Used to make plastics, resins, lubricants, detergents, and drugs and found in tobacco smoke, glue, and furniture wax. Symptoms of exposure: irritation to eyes, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, increased heart rate, confusion and in some cases can result in unconsciousness.

Formaldehyde

Found in paper bags, waxed papers, facial tissues, paper towels, plywood paneling, and synthetic fabrics. Symptoms of exposure: irritation to nose, mouth, and throat, and in severe cases, swelling of the larynx and lungs.

Trichloroethylene

Found in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives, and paint removers. Symptoms of exposure: excitement, dizziness, headache, nausea, and vomiting followed by drowsiness and coma.

Xylene/ Toluene

Found in rubber, leather, tobacco smoke, and vehicle exhaust. Symptoms of exposure: irritation to mouth and throat, dizziness, headache, confusion, heart problems, liver and kidney damage and coma.

Ammonia

Found in window cleaners, floor waxes, smelling salts, and fertilizers. Symptoms of exposure: eye irritation, coughing, sore throat

 

The clean air study although dated back over 25 years ago, the findings have stood the test of time, and are the most comprehensive and accurate results to date. Not only that, but additional information from recent research has been looked over and added accordingly. Let us look at the NASA study report plants with their effectiveness to clean the indoors air:

NASA Test Plants

 

Plant name

Benzene

Formaldehyde

Trichloroethylene

Xylene/ Toluene

Ammonia

1

Peace Lily

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

2

Florist’s Chrysanthemum

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

3

English Ivy

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

4

Variegated Snake Plant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

5

Red-edged Dracaena

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

6

Bamboo Palm

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

7

Money Plant

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

8

Flamingo Lili

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

9

Janet Craig

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

10

Warneckei

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

11

Cornstalk Dracaena

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

12

Barberton Daisy

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

13

Aloe vera

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

14

Dwarf Date Palm

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

15

Areca Palm

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

16

Boston Fern

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

17

Kimberly Queen Fern

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

18

Spider Plant

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

19

Chinese Evergreen

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

20

Weeping Fig

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

21

Heartleaf Philodendron

No

Yes

No

No

No

22

Selloum Philodendron

No

Yes

No

No

No

23

Elephant Ear Philodendron

No

Yes

No

No

No

24

Rubber plant

No

Yes

No

No

No

25

Dendrobium Orchids

No

No

No

Yes

No

26

Dumb Canes

No

No

No

Yes

No

27

King of Hearts

No

No

No

Yes

No

28

Moth Orchids

No

No

No

Yes

No

29

Banana

No

Yes

No

No

No

30

Lilyturf

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

31

Broadleaf Lady Palm

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

 

NASA Clean Air Study results have proved and helped the world to identify most efficient house plants. Not only that but has also helped astronauts build a safe and breathable atmosphere while away from home.



Natural plants not only beautify the interiors design but immensely help to create a better living space.

More on the study.





Written by: Yolanda M. Pineda

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