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Tropical Houseplants: A Breath of Fresh Air

Michael Nolan
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Peace Lily

We all know that tropical houseplants are beautiful, but did you know they could save your life? 

A report by the World Health Organization in 2002 said that as many as three deaths occur every minute as a result of complications due to indoor air pollution. Potentially hazardous chemicals in the air known as Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs are virtually everywhere from building materials to flooring even home furnishings and cleaning products, increasing our risk for life-threatening illnesses.

The problem became even bigger in the 1970s when regulations on energy efficiency were enacted. The resulting changes reduced the amount of outdoor air that made its way inside, resulting in a higher concentration of VOCs and potentially harmful particulates in the air.

Now the good news…

  • Houseplants reduce VOCs
  • Houseplants clean the air
  • Houseplants increase oxygen in the air

Snake PlantA NASA study in the 1980s examined the effect of houseplants on three specific VOCs: benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde. The results were overwhelmingly favorable, showing significant improvements in air quality in as little as 24 hours.

At the top of NASA’s winners is the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum). It thrives in low light and will flourish with no more than weekly watering.  Another standout was the Snake Plant (Sansevieria) more commonly called “Mother-In-Law’s Tongue”. This sleek, tall grower loves high humidity and low light, making it a good choice for bathrooms where it works overtime removing formaldehyde from the air.

To purify the air while you beautify your indoor environment with Mass Cane, Ficus, Dracaena Marginata and a host of other tropical houseplants, the recommendation is one houseplant for every 100 square feet of indoor space. A 2,000 square foot home, for example, would see the best air quality improvement with an average of 20 plants inside.

For more houseplant suggestions, check out 5 Houseplants to Keep Your Winter Green and don’t miss the Tropical Houseplant Event in your local Home Depot store where you can find special low prices on great tropical plants to clean the air and beautiful your home!

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