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Improving Air Quality With Indoor Plants

Fredda Branyon has dedicated her life to the advancement of complementary medicine.


Not only do indoor plants make for beautiful home décor, but they can help improve your home's air quality. Some air pollutants are 100 times more concentrated in our homes than outside. Studies have shown that the average amount of time a person living in the US spends nearly 92% of the day indoors. A typical employee spends about 2% of their day outdoors and 6% in transit between home and work.

Considering that we spend so much time indoors, the quality of the air we breathe has a significant impact on our respiratory system and overall health. Poor indoor quality is one of the top public health risks we face daily, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Several different health effects are associated with poor-quality air. By making small changes to indoor air pollution, we can reduce the risk of developing health problems.

Common indoor air pollutants

Even though you may think your indoor air quality is clean since there are no chemical smells or fog, the air quality inside your home can still pose a greater danger than outside. Early 1900s buildings were often constructed with wood, stone, clay, bricks, and other natural materials that did not emit airborne pollutants and allow outdoor air to circulate properly.

On the other hand, modern construction has evolved over the next century. Homes and buildings today are built to reduce utility costs, requiring owners to decide to ventilate their homes or buildings consciously. So what are these toxic pollutants we’re breathing inside our homes?

Some of the contributors to indoor pollution include:

  • Asbestos
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Building and painting products
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Carpets
  • Cleaning supplies & household chemicals
  • Cockroaches
  • Dust mites and dust
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead
  • Pet dander
  • Radon
  • Secondhand smoke
  • VOCs
  • Fire retardants

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How does indoor air quality affect our health?

There are several short-term health effects that indoor air pollution can cause, such as worsening asthma, itchy and watery eyes, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, scratchy throats, and runny noses. Usually, these symptoms subside within a few hours after exposure to these pollutants. However, long-term health conditions like bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, shortened lifespan, and decreased cognitive function don’t go away when you remove yourself from polluted environments.

Not only are they functional in your home or office environment, but they can also enhance your mood and help clean the air in your home. Several studies have shown that potted plants improve your working and living environments by reducing blood pressure, improving focus and productivity, lowering your anxiety levels, and improving your work satisfaction. Researchers have also mentioned that plants enhance your accuracy and help show better results when performing tasks.

Best air-purifying indoor plants

Plants are an excellent way to maintain indoor air quality because they absorb pollutants through their leaves and roots. Even though houseplants may seem daunting to those without a green thumb or who are scared of commitment, many plants are easy to maintain.

Here are 12 plants you should consider adding to your home:

  • Jade plants
  • Spider Plants
  • Scarlet Starts
  • Caribbean Tree Cactus
  • Dracaena
  • Ferns
  • Peace Lily
  • English Ivy
  • Ficus
  • Snake Plant or Mother-in-law’s Tongue
  • Philodendron
  • Bamboo Palm

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