is found in products such as furniture, wall paper, cardboard, and facial tissues. It is also used in some plastics, paints, varnishes, dishwashing liquids, fabric softeners, and cosmetics, such as nail polish. It enters the indoor environment through natural sources such as forest fires and certain human activities, including burning tobacco, gasoline and wood. As a result of being in so many common products and so prevalent in the environment, it is present, in its breathable gas form, in virtually all homes and buildings. Studies have suggested that people who are exposed to low levels of formaldehyde for long periods of time are more likely to experience asthma-related respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and wheezing. In higher amounts formaldehyde is known to cause cancer of the nasal cavity.
VOC’s or volatile organic compounds
are found in all petroleum products; however there are many other sources such as flooring adhesives (used for carpeting, hardwoods, etc), paint, furniture, wall materials, electronic equipment, cigarette smoke, household cleaning products and even air fresheners! The main reason we should be worried about VOCs is because they are the primary precursor to the formation of ground level ozone and particulate matter in the atmosphere which are the main ingredients of the air pollutant referred to as smog. The negative health effects of smog are well documented.
is a common indoor pollutant being released from paints, dry cleaning, adhesives, pesticides and the ink in copy machines, faxes, and printers. Short-term exposure to TCE causes irritation of the nose and throat and depression of the central nervous system. Higher concentrations have caused numbness and facial pain, reduced eyesight, unconsciousness, irregular heartbeat and even death.
Carbon monoxide (CO)
is a dangerous gas which is produced from open fires, gas stoves, appliances and heaters. It is also present in high concentrations in cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust. Low level exposure causes dizziness and headaches while more acute exposure can lead to death because CO actually prevents the delivery of oxygen to the body’s cells. Benzene is one of the many common toxic indoor air pollutants that green walls help to remove.
Benzene (C6H6), Toluene (C7H8) and Xylene (C8H10)
are found in the vapour of products such as gasoline, oils, paints, glues, inks, plastics, and rubber, where they are used as solvents. These three pollutants also enter into the composition of detergents, explosives, pharmaceuticals, foams and dyes. They are skin and eye irritants and are known carcinogens, in connection to human leukemia.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “people living and working in buildings of man made materials inhale over 300 contaminants every day.” Concerns about these contaminants arise from the hypothesis that, when combined, the toxicity of hundreds of different chemicals can “add up” to create major health hazards.
The Best Indoor House Plant To Remove Indoor Toxins and Pollutants
Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
Also called the “Butterfly Palm”. An upright houseplant that is somewhat vase shaped. Specimen plants can reach 10 to 12 foot in height. Prefers a humid area to avoid tip damage. Requires pruning. When selecting an Areca palm look for plants with larger caliber trunks at the base of the plant. Plants that have pencil thin stems tend to topple over and are quite difficult to maintain.
Through studies conducted by NASA, scientists have identified 50 houseplants that remove many of the pollutants and gases mentioned above. Dr. B. C. Wolverton rated these plants for removing chemical vapors, ease of growth, resistance to insect problems, and transpiration (the amount of water they expire into the air). NASA, with assistance from the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, conducted a two-year study directed by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, an environmental engineer from Picayune, Mr. Wolverton has worked as a research scientist for NASA for some 20 years. His study, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, of the interaction of plants and air found that houseplants, when placed in sealed chambers in the presence of specific chemicals, removed those chemicals from the chambers.