Air quality is a subject commonly met with much fanfare. People collectively cannot help but be concerned with this all-important element, as oxygen is the essence of life.
According to researchers, however, the air quality of homes and offices is often sub-standard. Dangerous toxins that include formaldehyde, benzene and carbon dioxide can be released in plentiful quantity from even the most routine items.
Thrown into this mix is also xylene, a pollutant that negatively affects the brain, kidneys, liver and reproductive system.
The Basics of Indoor Plants
According to studies conducted by Wolverton Environmental Services, Inc. and supported by the Plants for Clean Air Council in Mitchellville, Maryland, indoor plants can functionally remove air pollutants. In this manner, they improve air quality and eliminate dangerous toxins known to encumber the health of humans.
Specifically, plants cultivate microbes on and around their roots that grow specifically for the plants’ needs. The microbes use dead leaves, animal waste and other debris to create nutrients for themselves and the host plant. As geography and environment both play a role in determining the microbes of a given plant, indoor plants differ largely from those in arid environments. This is because indoor plants are essentially tropical plants, which require aggressive microbes that rapidly recycle different debris.
Microbes are very capable of adapting in different environments. Thus, indoor plants have the capacity to biodegrade air pollutants, among which are xylene. These plants not only possess high transpiration rates that move great amounts of air, but they also filter negative chemicals. As a general rule of thumb, two or more medium to large plants are recommended per 100 square feet.
Health Hazards of Xylene
Xylene refers to a group of benzene derivatives that is highly flammable and extremely toxic. It is used as a solvent in the printing, rubber and leather industries. Xylene is also commonly found in pesticides, art supplies, varnishes and paint thinner. According to OSHA, “exposure to xylene can occur via inhalation, ingestion, eye or skin contact, and, to a small extent, by absorption through the skin.”
At its most potent, xylene can harm the brain and thus cause confusion, dizzy spells, loss of muscle coordination and headaches. This chemical is also associated with difficulty breathing, memory loss, stomach upset and lung problems. Unconsciousness and death have both resulted from over-exposure to xylene. Occupational and home exposure are each likely with xylene, as it is a common ingredient in many products.
Best Indoor Plant Choices for Eliminating Xylene
According to the Foliage for Clean Air Council, indoor plants can largely reduce xylene inhalation. The areca palm is the most widely-recognized of all indoor plant species for filtering the toxin. This plant is considered by many to be a living humidifier, and it is characterized by long, tropical-like palms. Areca palms prefer medium to bright light and damp soil. In addition to its air purification, this species is quite hardy, making it a smart choice for the home or office.
The dwarf date palm is also largely recognized as filtering both xylene and formaldehyde from the air. This is an indoor palm tree that prefers warm temperatures, warm water and bright sunlight. Considered among the best of all indoor purifying plants, the dwarf date palm grows slowly but works effectively to eliminate toxins.
Another option to filter xylene as recommended by NASA researchers is the Dracaena marginata, also known as the red-edged Dracaena. This plant removes xylene, toluene, benzene and formaldehyde from indoor air, thus providing a much more purified environment. This plant is easy to care for, as it will tolerate irregular watering periods and dry soil.
Finally, the Chrysanthemum is considered a powerful plant that has both medicinal and air purifying qualities. This species successfully filters xylene and other polluting compounds from the air. Among plant enthusiasts, the Chrysanthemum is especially popular because it grows beautiful and lush flowers. Bright sunlight and warm water are required for this plant to flourish.
- ^ Indoor Plants that Filter Xylene (www.hellolife.net)
- ^ http://www.toptipspot.com/tips/health/howto/air-cleaning-plants.php (www.toptipspot.com)
- ^ http://www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/houseplants.htm (www.ecomall.com)
- ^ http://www.earthwitchery.com/pollution.html (www.earthwitchery.com)