Indoor plants — a quick fix to improve indoor air quality
We often think about air quality around the streets of Pittsburgh, but how often do we think about indoor air quality?
Summer is here and that means housework and cleaning is in full swing. However, with cleaning and housework comes exposure to household items that can potentially degrade the air quality in your home or building.
Studies over the past several years have shown that air quality in homes, offices, and buildings can be more polluted than air indoors. The majority of indoor air pollution comes from things we use on a daily basis, such as detergents, solvents, glues/adhesives, aerosol sprays, disinfectants, paint, and other household products that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). After some activities, like paint stripping, VOC levels in a building can be up to 1,000 times greater than outdoor levels — even several hours after the activity has stopped. Other pollutants such as smoke, mold, stored fuel, animal dander, dust, wood stoves, gas stoves, fireplaces, and pollen contribute to indoor air pollution– potentially causing adverse health effects such as irritation, allergies, dizziness, and respiratory illnesses.
Because people spend 90% of their time indoors, it is important to minimize exposure of these pollutants. Luckily there is an easy way to help reduce indoor air pollution. The solution? Grow indoor trees and plants! Plants purify and filter the air, removing potentially harmful pollutants. Not only will this help improve indoor air quality, it adds aesthetic appeal and a pop of greenery to homes and buildings.
Indoor trees and plants that excel at improving indoor air quality include, but are not limited to: weeping fig, Ficus Alii, areca palm, bamboo palm, lady palm, rubber tree, spider plant, snake plant, and aloe vera. Many of these indoor plants are low-maintenance, small in stature, and can be found at your local plant nursery or hardware store, making them perfect for homes and buildings.
Do your research: while many indoor plants are generally easy to care for, some may require more attention than others or may not suit the size of your space. Some indoor plants require specific humidity levels and may need to be placed in direct (or indirect) sunlight. Be sure to research maintenance and care before purchasing.
Check for toxicity: many indoor plants can be harmful to household pets. Be sure to check ASPCA’s website for more information on plant toxicity.
Regularly prune: Pruning helps ensure a healthy plant. If left unpruned, the plant may rapidly outgrow the pot and will need to be replanted. Pruning helps shape the plant and keeps it at a manageable size. Some indoor plants, like weeping figs, can grow to nearly 10–12 feet if left untrimmed.
Visit the EPA’s Indoor Air Quality website for more information regarding indoor air quality.
Blog by: Jen Moreth