Plants That Help Clear the Air

Find out which plants help clear the air in your home.
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mums

mums

Chrysanthemums and azaleas (below) can literally clear the air in your home.

Chrysanthemums and azaleas (below) can literally clear the air in your home.

By Rosemary Sadez Friedmann
Scripps Howard News Service

The quality of the air we breathe is important to health. Obvious truth? Sure. But how do we know if the air in our homes is clean? Other than allergies flaring up and telling us, there is no real way to know, but there are ways to ensure that the air is clean--even if we can't see it, smell it or feel it.

Buying an air ionic air cleaner is one great way to clear the air. Another is to have live plants in the house.

That poses more questions: How many and what kinds of plants? The Foliage for Clean Air Council suggests that one potted plant per 100 square feet of floor space can effectively remove pollutants from the air.

azalea

azalea

There are also specific plants that clean specific pollutants.

One very common pollutant is formaldehyde, as it is found in just about every household item. Here are some examples of items containing formaldehyde along with the antidote plants.

foam insulation (mostly in older homes)-- chrysanthemum
plywood -- azalea
particle board -- dieffenbachia
carpeting -- philodendron
furniture-- spider plant
clothes -- golden pothos
paper goods -- bamboo palm
household cleaners -- corn plant
water repellents -- mother-in-law tongue

Benzene is another offender. Here are the cures for various offenders:

synthetic fibers -- chrysanthemum
plastics -- Gerbera daisy
tobacco smoke -- peace lily
detergents -- English ivy

Circulating air via a fan, open window or air conditioner helps get these toxins moving so the plants can absorb them.

So buying a few plants can kill two birds at one time. They decorate the house and clean the air at the same time.

(Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of Mystery of Color, available at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and online.)

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