People just do not breathe as well as they used to in this country. According to some reports, 64,000 people die every year from pulmonary illness relating to air pollution. That is a huge number of people – more than the population of many small cities.
And the problem is by no means limited to outdoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution can make people very ill as well. But the good news is that according to a much publicized NASA study conducted several years ago, certain house plants may possess special air cleansing abilities.
Researcher B.C. Wolverton, who wrote, "How to Grow Fresh Air," was commissioned by NASA to perform this study. The results suggest that house plants help enhance indoor air quality. Some of the most efficient apparent air cleaning plants include varieties of palms, the rubber plant, English ivy, a ficus, the Boston fern, and mums.
Palms appear to be fairly effective at removing many indoor air poisons. For example, the areca palm was highly rated for removing a wide variety of indoor toxins. The lady palm, dracaena ,philodendron and parlor palm, also scored highly in the multiple toxins category.
Today, many people choose to specialize, and plants have followed suit.
For example, the bamboo palm removes benzene and trichloroethylene, which are both dangerous solvents. Of course, you have a problem in any case if you live in a house in which you are being forced to breathe this stuff.
The peace lily seems to filter alcohol and acetone, great for late night party goers who tend to spill their nail polish remover (and drinks). Concerns over indoor air quality started to publically surface over the past 10 years, or so. Before then, outdoor air pollution was the focus of most people's attention.
It is nice to know that something as attractive and nice as a house plant can be productive in the fight to keep our indoor air clean. Not only do plants filter out toxins and pollutants, they also replace these poisons when oxygen, which of course is something that we need to stay alive. Studies suggest that one house plant per 100 square feet of living area will provide some level of protection. Certain plants appear to be able to filter out more poison than other plants, and tobacco smoke seems to be difficult for most plants to combat.
Pay real attention to this issue of indoor air quality. Scientists are starting to understand that many of our breathing difficulties have as much to do with what we breathe inside our homes as what we breathe outside our homes. While the government has regulated outdoor air pollution for 25 years, or so, until recently, little attention has been focused on indoor air quality.