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Plants That Clean the Air in your Green Home

written by: Cheryl Gabbert•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 2/5/2010

Having a healthier home doesn't have to mean spending a lot of money on expensive filters. You can improve air quality simply by adding plants throughout your home. Plants that clean the air make any home a more inviting place to be, and they are effective in filtering out a lot of toxins.

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    Toxins in the Air

    You might not realize it, but there could be toxic chemicals in the air of your own home. The EPA calls indoor pathogens one of the top 5 threats to public health. Some buildings are so toxic they are known as "sick buildings". People actually become chronically sick when they spend time in these places. The air quality of many homes is compromised from toxins in carpets, paints, varnishes, and humans themselves. Mold and bacteria can also be a culprit. Certain heating systems and fireplaces can increase the levels of carbon monoxide. Formaldehyde and ammonia are also commonly found in the air of homes and buildings. If you're concerned about the air quality in your home, there is one attractive answer to your problem: houseplants. Plants that clean the air remove toxins from homes and improve air quality just as effectively as expensive air filters and they are a whole lot prettier. They are also a great step in creating a green home.

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    Go For Low Light Varieties

    You've decided to fill your home with houseplants to improve the quality of your air, so what kind of plants should you choose? Go for plants that require little sunlight. It's hard to grow plants inside that need a lot of direct light. You'll be limited in finding good places to put them so they will thrive. Think subtropical and tropical varieties that grow in thick forests where sunlight has a hard time penetrating down to the forest floor.

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    Best Plants to Pick

    The following is a list of plants that clean the air and work well in the home.

    The Peace Lily: Peace lilies are best known for their elegant, white flowers. They require little or no sun, and need evenly moist soil. These little beauties filter out benzene, alcohol, acetone, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde.

    English Ivy: A beautiful choice for hanging baskets, english ivy is one of the best plants to improve air quality in the home. It is very effective in removing formaldehyde and benzene. This plant is easy to grow, and is known to overgrow pots rather quickly.

    Areca Palms: Removes some of the most indoor pollutants. This tree brings a tropical flare to your home. It releases a lot of moisture into the air, which is great if your home seems dry in the winter. If you choose an areca palm though, be aware that they grow fast and can reach a height of 6 feet.

    Boston Ferns: Boston ferns remove formaldehyde and are so pretty in baskets. They do require a lot of humidity, and many growers suggest daily misting. This would be a great plant for your bathroom, where there is typically a lot of steam from the shower.

    Ficus: This plant removes formaldehyde from your home. It's a tough little plant that require very little attention. The ficus can be watered once a month and needs little light.

    Chrysanthemum: These flowering plants remove formaldehyde, benzene, as well as trichloroethylene. These require a little more care than some, as you must rotate them between sunlight and shade. Still their beauty and toxin filtering qualities make them worth the trouble.

    Snake Plant: These easy to grow houseplants remove toxins from the air, and they can also turn carbon dioxide into oxygen at night.

    Spider Plant: This plant can actually lower toxic carbon monoxide levels in a home. It also lowers the levels of xylene and formaldehyde. Spider plants need a little more light, growing best in medium to bright light.

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