Clear the air indoors with living additions to your home

Published 10:17 am Saturday, July 4, 2015

Contributed Photo Garden mums are among plants that purify polluted indoor air.

Contributed Photo
Garden mums are among plants that purify polluted indoor air.

Good morning, gardeners!

Pollutants indoors in many homes consist of formaldehyde, benzene, paradichlorbenzene and many others we cannot pronounce. It is said that air polluted by chemicals including smoke from cigarettes, fireplaces and stoves makes indoor air three to five times more polluted than the air outdoors.

These pollutants are indoors in dryer sheets and furniture made of particleboard. (The glue holding particles together is the culprit.)

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Pollutants are in laminated wood floors, in the glue that attaches carpet backing to the carpet, and in the products used to treat fabrics to make them fireproof and wrinkle-free.

We bring pollutants into our homes on fresh fruit and vegetables. Some are sprayed to give them a longer fresh shelf life in markets. Foam rubber and other oil-based products incorporated into the useful things in our homes may cause illness. Labels on processed foods need careful reading. Under counter cleaners is another problem as are air fresheners and scented products of all types.

So, what can we do to give us healthier lungs, avoid asthma and other breathing and health problems caused by pollutants? On cool evenings, open the windows. Leave bedroom windows open to sleep no matter how cold the nights get. Simply put an extra blanket on the bed and breathe better. Purchase “green” products and stop using chemicals. Change to unscented products now readily available.

Add special plants to indoor rooms. Check the list below of some plants that work well removing various pollutants from indoor air. Most plants are tolerant of dim light; others prefer a brightly lighted room, but no direct sunlight. Just read the tags.

Plants on the list are low maintenance, and require low water usage. None have had swimming lessons, so do not overwater a plant. If you water a plant often and it is still wilted, check if it is sitting in water. If so, drain and let it dry out before watering again.

Generally, each room needs a plant. Just one plant will not clean the air in a whole house.

Peace Lilies remove several kinds of indoor pollutants. Plants on the list are easily found in stores and plant nurseries. For more information, check the internet.


Areca Palm

Rubber Plant

Reed Palm

Weeping Fig

Dwarf Date Palm

Aloe Vera

Boston Fern

Golden Pothos TriCities

Janet Craig dracaena

Snake Plant

English Ivy

Spider Lily

Peace Lily

Garden Mum

One last pollutants of indoor air is radon. Radon occurs naturally in the soils of many states, including Tennessee. It is quiet and deadly. To find out if you have radon in your home purchase a test kit at many hardware stores. The kit comes with directions for use. It is then mailed away for reading. Radon is a correctible problem, so get a test and find out. Let us all breathe easier thanks to plants; however, no plant will remove radon.

Happy gardening, everyone.

Jeanne Cope is a freelance garden writer and a UT Lifetime Master Gardener. Reach her at Send questions and comments about her column to