Take a Deep Cleansing Breath

Since we spend nearly 90% of our time indoors, it just makes sense to pay attention to our indoor air quality (IAQ). I’ll be writing a series of blog posts about this topic (just click on the Improving Indoor Air Quality tag to see them all).

Indoor air is commonly 2 to 5 times more contaminated than outdoor air. The culprits? Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particle air pollutants (dust). The most persistent indoor air pollutants also happen to coincide with the most common asthma triggers: dust, chemical based cleaners, aerosols, pests, and second-hand smoke.

The first solution is ventilation. Open a window! If possible, create circular airflow by opening both the bottom and the top sections of the window (remember, hot air rises).  And also remember, air conditioners are heat exchangers, not air exchangers. Just because you’ve cooled the existing air in a room doesn’t make it fresh.

Get Some Green in Your Life

We all know that trees and plants are vital air purifiers for the environment.  What we need to keep in mind is that indoor plants mimic what trees do for the air outside. In fact, a NASA study showed that indoor plants have been shown to remove up to 75% of indoor pollution. Four or five plants can effectively clean the air of a 500 sq. ft. space.   Most common indoor plants fall into the super-hero category, however a few species are particularly effective in filtering certain airborne chemicals:

  • English, Ivy, gerbera daisy, pot mums, peace lily, bamboo palm, and Mother-in-law’s tongue (Snake plant) are found to be the best plants for treating air contaminated with Benzene – a common chemical off-gas from tobacco smoke, inks, plastics, detergents, and oil/gasoline.
  • The peace lily, gerbera daisy, and bamboo palm are very effective in treating Trichloroethylene – a common airborne contaminant from inks, paints, and adhesives.
  • Pot mums, bamboo palm, Philodendron, and spider plant are good choices for filtering Formaldehyde – a common off-gas of carpets, chemical based household cleaners, cabinetry/plywood furniture & finishes, and paper goods.

Remember that plants need to breathe as well. Gently dust them with a damp cloth. Keep soil and root area clear as some of the air-cleaning action occurs there.


Read the next post in the Improving Indoor Air Quality series: Keep it Clean – The Air, That Is” (green spray cleaners)


About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have.

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  1. Trees to the Rescue! - Jenny Green Jeans | August 13, 2014
  1. lindalcritelli@gmail.com' Linda says:

    Great idea! Who knew that adding a few plants to a room would make that much of a diffrence in your indoor air quality?! I’m going to get a few for my office. I work in a highrise in NYC with NO ventilation. The windows don’t open and we have forced AC. Seems we are constantly spreading colds. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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