December 23, 2015

What do space stations have in common with your Phoenix-area home? Both are contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be scrubbed from the air with houseplants!

Scientists working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) charted 107 VOCs in air inside space station Skylab in 1973. Working to counteract formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene outgassing from materials in the station, the scientists studied how ordinary houseplants improve indoor air quality. 

Indoor Air Quality

Any home—your Scottsdale-area home or Buckingham Palace—has indoor air quality many times worse than outside air. Your home’s air could be up to 10 times dirtier than outdoors, which is why you use efficient air filters in your HVAC system. Houseplants can complement technology.

VOCs commonly found in a home come from cleaners, solvents, glues, markers, adhesives and other everyday items. These give off an unpleasant mix of chemicals that are volatile (evaporate into the air) and organic (natural and easily inhaled):

    • 2-propanol
    • Acetone
    • Butane
    • Chlordane
    • d-Limonene
    • Ethanol
    • Fire retardants
    • Formaldehyde
    • Methyl chloride
    • Propane
    • Toluene
    • Xylene

 

Remedies

Five houseplants can help your whole-house air filtering system remove VOCs from your Phoenix-area home:

    • Aloe: The succulent aloe can reduce formaldehyde and benzene. Aloe is a smart choice for a sunny kitchen window. Aloe’s gel (inside the plant) speeds healing of cuts and burns, too.
    • Spider plant:  Spider plants, with lush foliage and tiny white flowers, filters out benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and xylene. If you tend to kill houseplants, a spider plant is your plant.
    • Gerber daisy: A Gerber daisy clears trichloroethylene (from dry cleaning) and benzene. Put one in your laundry room and give it plenty of light.
    • Mother-in-law’s tongue: Like aloe, this filters out formaldehyde from cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and personal care products. Place it in a bathroom; it does well in low light and high humidity.
    • Golden pothos: Golden pathos pulls formaldehyde out of your Arizona home’s indoor air. It stays green in the dark, so you could put several in your garage.

 

For more professional advice on ridding your Scottsdale-area home of indoor air pollutants, contact us at Wolff Mechanical.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Phoenix Valley area of Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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