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Indoor Air Pollution and Houseplants.

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

The more people that I speak to at clinic post-lockdown the more I discover that many us have taken up some form of gardening during the crisis. Whether it is cultivating vegetables, germinating seeds or sourcing some new houseplants. One could assume that we were killing a few endless lockdown hours. But could we all be attempting to grow some new life, some goodness out of all of the global bullsh*t? Could we be shifting towards some form of self-sufficiency where food is concerned should another crisis occur in the future? Subconsciously there may be that potential. I’ll leave that up to you…

Either way I have tried filling my clinic room with much more greenery. This has 100% improved my working environment and I now look forward to seeing these green eyed Monsteras everyday. I have also very kindly been gifted two new additions that I look after attentively! The added greenery gives the room a renewed sense of the great outdoors which has been proven to diminish levels of stress through giving the mind and body a greater sense of ease. Where pain is concerned, calming down an irritable system is the first port of call. Enter the plants.

However this got me thinking; added to the plants inherent aesthetic value could I potentially be improving my own health by housing them in my working environment? Will these additional houseplants improve the air quality within the clinic room? Could my patients then also benefit from this “breath of fresh air” despite being in the room for a much shorter time frame?

Enter a famous *NASA study named “Indoor Air Pollution Abatement” dating all the way back to 1989: (I should be careful stating all the way back- I was born scarily close to this ancient date).

Within the study the scientists through controlled experiments discovered that the standard house plants did in fact remove large amounts harmful chemicals from the atmosphere. An English Ivy was even found to remove 89.8% of atmospheric benzene over a 24 hour period! Fascinatingly what the studies discovered is that the plant root-soil zone appears to be the most effective area for removing volatile organic chemicals. So a plants extraction potential does not always lie in the size of its leaf! (I still love my Monstera.)

So what does this all mean? Damaging chemical pollutants such as benzene from solvents, chemical irritants from exhaust fumes, smoke from fires, and formaldehyde which is found extensively in indoor environments can ALL be removed by your trusty houseplants. The degrees do vary however you will almost always be receiving the air purification benefits with keeping houseplants.

So next time you give your plants some water and a good dose of liquid feed. Rest assured that the relationship is reciprocal, they will be keeping your lungs clear and air clean too!

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