Why this stuff matters
Astronauts in both U.S. and USSR space programs had been experiencing symptoms such as itchy eyes and skin, chest pain, breathing problems and loads of other allergy-like symptoms. At the same time due to the energy crisis of the 1970s buildings had become far better insulated whilst also including far more synthetic chemicals in their construction. Think of benzene in plastics and rubbers, formaldehyde in particle board just to name a couple of nasties which lead to disease, asthma and even cancer.
Importantly, energy efficiency is a hot topic these days and if anything we’ve increased the amount of chemicals in our homes as we choose materials made of synthetic over natural again and again. The CSIRO currently estimates that this ‘sick building syndrome’ costs us around $12 billion annually!
The original investigator of the NASA report – B.C. Wolverton Ph.D. has gone on to publish and entire book on the subject, which I imagine is a little more readable than the original report and highly recommended if you want to know more.
So without further a due here are my top five plants for detoxing your home and supplying fresh oxygen!
Areca Palm (chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
A natural humidifier
Golden Pothos or Native Monstera (epipremnum arum)
Removes formaldehyde, benzene and xylene
Boston Fern (nephrolpis exaltata bostoniensis)
Most efficient at removing benzene and formaldehyde
Peace Lily (spathiphyllum)
Excellent at removing benzene
Mother in Law’s tongue (sansevieria trifasciata)
Produces oxygen specifically at night time – great for bedrooms and small talk with the inlaws…
Tips for getting the most out of your indoor plants
- Don’t overwater – you want to avoid encouraging mould forming in the extra humidity of pooling water etc.
- Use a quality potting mix and slow release fertiliser
- Wipe the leaves regularly to remove dust and indoor pollutants
- Take the plant outside for half a day, once a month
- Ventilate your house regularly for optimal indoor health for you and your plants
- Check if plant is toxic if eaten by curious pets before purchasing
So while some things from the 1970s should be left behind (think matching his and hers jumpsuits) indoor plants are a great idea that should be embraced!