How to Grow Fresh Air

Good news for lovers of indoor landscaping: House plants have the triple-whammy benefits of improving your health, cleansing the environment, and brightening up the appearance of your home. Government studies show that the indoor air quality of most homes is actually worse than outdoor air quality because paints, carpets, fabrics and appliances contain formaldehyde, acetone and other chemicals that release vapors.

Since Americans are known to spend a staggering 90 percent of their lives indoors, good indoor air quality is a critical health concern. Moreover, filtering indoor air means less of these toxins seep into the outdoors.

The potted-plant Bible, How to Grow Fresh Air, compiled by former NASA scientist Bill Wolverton, evaluates the cleansing properties of 50 different varieties of indoor plants. Each plays a special role: Ficus trees help remove formaldehyde released from wood products and upholstery; orchids absorb chloroform; peace lilies filter alcohol and acetone from paints; ferns adds humidity. Aloe vera converts carbon dioxide to oxygen during the night rather than during the day to ensure easy breathing ‘round the clock.

Better yet, having an abundance of plants around the house obviates the need for cut flowers, which have their own adverse impacts on the environment

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