According to Dr. B.C. Wolverton, noted scientist for the NASA lunar habitat, most experts now agree that indoor air pollution is a major problem and may actually be as much as ten times more polluted than the outdoor environment. There is no agreement, however, on how to solve it. The Institute of Medicine estimates that one in five north Americans will experience allergy-related illness at some point during their lives, and indoor allergens will be responsible for a substantial number of those cases. Included are reoccurring sinus infections, chronic post-nasal discharge, asthma, bronchial infections, and ear infections. It is currently estimated that 28% of Americans experience multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) and it is expected to grow to 60% by 2010. Increasing the levels of ventilation in a building does not offer a solution. Constant purging of inside air is neither cost-effective nor environmentally responsible. Although the term "green building" is becoming an attractive concept to building managers and occupants, the use of living plants is not currently part of the concept.
Illnesses caused by synthetic contaminants and stale indoor air are most often the result of exposure to low concentrations of a mixture of chemicals. Those exposed to this chemical soup may not immediately experience acute reactions. However, when exposed over an extended period, they may become sensitized and develop MCS. Once a person has become hypersensitive, he or she may later develop acute reactions when again exposed to even trace levels of the chemical or pollutant.
Now that another winter is upon us and we're all closing up our homes, offices and schools, let's do something to ensure we not only reduce some of the indoor pollutants, but in the process add beauty and oxygen to our closed environments.
Plants supply many human needs through their use as food, medicines, energy, building materials, etc. Dr. Wolverton points out that plants are the lungs of the earth. They produce the oxygen that makes life possible, add precious moisture and filter toxins. Indoor plants can perform these essential functions in your home or office with the same efficiency as a rainforest in our biosphere.
Plants work by cleaning the air and neutralizing pollution. Plants can significantly reduce pollutants such as formaldehyde. They can be placed in problem areas, such as a bedroom or kitchen with cabinets and furniture made of formaldehyde-releasing particleboard or pressed wood. In office environments or schools, most furnishings are composed of these materials that release toxins. The following plants are helpful in reducing indoor air pollution allergic reactions:
Aloe Vera: eliminates emissions from most toxic materials
English Ivy: petroleum-based products
Fig Trees: formaldehyde
Chrysanthemum: Toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia
Spider Plants: Exceptional for eliminating formaldehyde
Chinese Evergreen, Bamboo Palm and Lillies: Many toxic materials
The next time you want to make a healthy contribution to your home, office or school, why not contribute a green plant, Naturally.
This and subsequent articles are for the purpose of education and to provide support to the millions afflicted with allergies and multiple chemical sensitivity syndromes. To share your stories of challenges, solutions and experiences involving living with multiple chemical sensitivities, as well as any negative experiences with drug side effects or negative experiences in receiving health care, please mail or fax your story to:
Fax to: (208) 267-0617