Air Scrubbers for the Home

October is a great time to open doors and windows, at least for a while. When the weather does not permit open windows, try a few houseplants to freshen things up. In addition to adding beauty, they can even out humidity and add oxygen to a home. Recent studies by NASA have shown that houseplants not only produce oxygen, but they are effective in removing harmful chemicals from the air.
In the 1970s when our construction changed to make homes more energy efficient, there began to be a problem called “sick building.” All the synthetic materials, which are known to emit various organic compounds, were linked to numerous health complaints. Man, himself, adds to the problems in closed, poorly ventilated areas. Think about people in an airplane for an extended amount of time!
It is no secret that plants take in carbon dioxide and use it to make food by separating the carbon and the oxygen through photosynthesis in the daylight. They use the carbon for growth, seed production, etc. and emit the oxygen in the dark wee hours of the morning. The larger the leaf surface, the more effective the process.

According to recent studies there are many good plants to have in the house. The top ones are as follows:
1.    Mother-in-law’s Tongue
2.    Dracaena
3.    Philodendron
4.    Areca Palm
5.    Money Plant
6.    Airplane Plant
7.    English Ivy
8.    Chinese Evergreen
9.    Gerbera Daisy
10.    Ficus
11.    Christmas Cactus
12.   Golden Pothos
13.   Rubber Plant

If you choose to have plants in the house, get started now! Buy plants, saucers and rolling stands for them before they all disappear in the Halloween rush! I consider saucers and rolling stands a must since it seems important to protect the floor and to be able to clean under the stands. As for which plants to choose, make your selection based on how much light you have available. I have almost no direct sun, so I have to go with Chinese Evergreen, Mother-in-law’s Tongue, Golden Pothos and Corn Plant. I also like the fact that they tell me when to water by wilting. Water in the saucer can evaporate out and help the humidity when our central heat comes on. Studies show that as few as 15 houseplants will significantly reduce the quantity of indoor contaminants. Try them. You may like the look, and your lungs will love the extra oxygen!

Written by Nancy Fenton, Master Gardener.