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Plants: The Most Natural Air Fresheners of All

By Dr. Kristie

We all want a clean, pleasant smelling house. In the quest for a pleasing home smell, many people automatically reach for the package of commercial air freshener at their local grocery store.

Although these products may be quite effective at masking odors, they often contain harmful chemicals that can have long term health effects, particularly in children. Many people don’t realize the importance of using a natural air freshener as an alternative to these sweet smelling, but harmful chemical factories.

The harmful chemicals found in the majority of commercial air fresheners are volatile organic compounds known as VOC’s. These include a range of unhealthy chemicals that have the capability of being absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs.

A few of these VOC’s include such well known health hazards as formaldehyde and benzene, both of which have been linked to cancer in addition to other serious medical problems. Even more disturbing is the fact that these chemicals can cause health problems even when inhaled in low concentrations.

It’s obvious that a natural air freshener needs to be substituted for the unsafe, potentially cancer causing chemicals that are added to the ones you buy at the grocery store. Is there an alternative? One of the very best forms of natural air freshener is completely chemical free.

Instead of spraying your home with chemicals, simply fill your home with green plants. Not only will your house look more beautiful, certain plants have the capability of acting as natural air purifiers which can help to protect the health of you and your family.

How can a plant act as a natural air freshener? It appears that tiny microorganisms found on the surface of the plant can break down harmful chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde, thus purifying the air. Although a variety of plants have the ability to naturally purify the air, some are better than others and some are better at removing specific chemicals than others.

One of the best plants for removing formaldehyde from the home is the Boston fern. Formaldehyde is a chemical frequently emitted from fiberboard furniture. Not only will this plant make a room look fresh, contemporary, and beautiful, it can make your home a healthier and safer place to live.

Other plants that are effective at removing particular chemicals are the Areca palm which removes xylene and English ivy which removes benzene. Both of these chemicals are found in a variety of products used routinely in the home such as glues, magic marker, and household cleaning solutions.

Both the Areca palm and English ivy plants are easy to find at your local greenhouse and can serve double duty by making your home beautiful while protecting the health of its occupants.

The next time you’re tempted to reach for a container of commercial air freshener, ask yourself if a natural air freshener in the form of a lush, green plant might not be better. It’s yet another way to go green.

About the Author

She is a Medical Doctor with a concentration in Family Practice. She also has an undergraduate degree in both Biology and Psychology and masters in Clinical Pathology.



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