Purify Indoor Air with Pet Friendly Plants

Alexandra Hart

Spring time, often synonymous with deep cleaning the house, is the season we can let the outdoor breeze circulate our indoor living spaces.  The air feels fresh, clean, and pure.  We have the luxury of turning off the heat without having to run the air conditioning.  Unfortunately, even with that added fresh air flow, we are still constantly battling indoor toxins that can have serious effects on the way we feel.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency the average American spends 90 percent of their lives indoors.  Between work, home and other various establishments, indoor air is what we breathe in the most.  On the one hand, our indoor spaces protect us from the outdoor elements, allowing us to eat, sleep, and work comfortably no matter what the season.  However this protection also traps in endless amounts of dangerous chemicals, making indoor air five to ten times more polluted than the exterior.

Formaldehyde: Found in carpets, draperies, upholstery, glues, paint, stains etc.

Benzene: Found in plastics, synthetic fibers, tobacco smoke, pesticides, etc.

Trichloroethylene: Found in paint removers, rug cleaning solution, adhesives, etc.

Xylene and Toluene: Found in computer screens, printers, stains, varnishes etc.

The good news is plants help to clean up our indoor environments.  Better yet, some plants have been identified as improving indoor air quality better than others.  In 1989, NASA began to study the affect plants have on air quality. After exposing plants to high levels of chemicals, it was found that certain houseplants were able to remove 87 percent of these air borne toxins within a 24 hour period. NASA recommends at least one plant per 100 square feet of interior space.

Plants can help to create a healthy living space for you, your family and your pets.  In addition to purifying the air, they have a tendency to complete a room, bringing in an added sense of elegance while making it appear more lavish. They make wonderful gifts and research shows that plants can improve mood, health, and sleep cycles.  However those who have pets beware.  Only a few of the top air purifying plants are safe for animals, and those with animals know how tempting a leafy green plant can be for Mr. Chewy.  If you do choose to keep any of the more toxic plants in your home, make certain they are out of reach of your furry friends.

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The following is a list of the top purifying house plants which ARE safe for cats and dogs:

  • Bamboo Palm:  The Bamboo palm also referred to as the Lucky Palm is at the top of the list for filtering out benzene and trichloroethylene. The palm thrives in well-lit areas but will also grow in low lighting conditions making it very easy to maintain and care for.
  • Lady Palm: Tall and dramatic, the lady palm is great for filtering out formaldehyde and ammonia.  It strives in bright, indirect sunlight and will grow easily creating beautiful fan like leaf structures.
  • Spider Plant:  One of the first plants studied for its ability to rid harsh chemicals from indoor air, the spider plant removes formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.  This easy to grow house plant can tolerate a wide range of temperatures making it very popular to cultivate.
  • Boston Fern:  The beautiful Boston fern is great for filling in indoor space with its lush and full bodied branches.  Caring for this plant does require specific attention to humidity levels, but it can be easily maintained with proper watering and misting.  The house plant helps remove formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.
  • Phalaenopsis Orchids: Also known as the moth orchid, this stunning flowering plant adds vibrant color to any space while removing dangerous toxins such as xylene and toluene from the air.  Requiring a bright location and weekly watering, this plant is very easy to care for and will provide months of longevity.   
  • Gerbera Daisy: Having trouble sleeping?  Place a pot of the beautiful colored flowers next to your bed.  Increasing Oxygen in your sleep space helps people get better rest. Because the flowers are unlike most other plants and absorb toxins as they release oxygen at night, versus the normal daytime cycle, they have been said to provide relief to people who experience sleeping disorders.
  • Dwarf Date Palm: One of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, the dwarf date palm will remove high amounts of formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. Fill your brightest rooms with the trees as they thrive in well-lit environments.  The palm trees make excellent indoor plants and are very easy to maintain.
  • Lily Turf:  Often used in outdoor landscaping, the lily turf can also be grown indoors.  Helpful in removing excess ammonia from the air, the lily turf plant produces fragrant blooms and can do well in almost any amount of light. It grows best in loose, rich soil and once established is a sturdy plant resistant to drought.





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