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While we are sometimes tempted to seal off at home to escape outdoor pollution, it is surprising to learn that indoor air - habitats, public places, means of transport - is not healthier; on the contrary. In these enclosed spaces in which we spend the majority of our time, the air is even on average 8 times more polluted than outside (Study Rowenta, 2013). To fight against this underestimated but daily pollution, are depolluting plants the solution?
Sources of indoor pollution
We think of course of painting, varnishes, glues, domestic allergens (dog, cat, mites), cleaning products. But you should also be wary of carpet, textiles, wood and particle board, insulation. Kitchen smells, appliances and tobacco are also common pollutants. These numerous sources of pollution have multiple consequences on our health, with effects of variable duration. Certain pollutants can cause respiratory problems and allergies. All allergic diseases (asthma, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, food allergy, etc.) affect 25 to 30% of the population in industrialized countries (Inserm study). Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found especially in paints, plywood or packaging are most often the cause of eye and respiratory tract irritation. Respiratory, neurological or cardiovascular pathologies can even go as far as the development of certain cancers.
Depolluting plants, what principle?
Through their stems and leaves, they absorb pollutants from our habitats and in return produce oxygen. A gas exchange which is based on the principle of bio-purification, that is to say of purification by means of living organisms. Microorganisms, present in their roots, convert these pollutants into organic matter which nourishes the plant. Some species will also emit water vapor and thus increase the humidity of the rooms.
Multipurpose depolluting plant species
Against benzene (tobacco, furniture, DIY products): Aglaonema, Chlorophytum, Spathiphyllum, Dracaena Marginata, Pothos, Gerbera Jamesonii. Against formaldehyde (particle board, chipboard, solvent-based paints, photocopiers): Chlorophytum, Aglaonema, Rubber (or Ficus Elastica), Anthurium, Spathiphyllum, Dracaena Marginata, Boston fern, Pothos, Gerbera Jamesonii, Rhapis. Against ammonia (fertilizers, cleaning products, refrigeration, tobacco): Anthurium, Spathiphyllum, Azalea, Ficus Benjamina (or Weeping Fig), Rhapis.
Against carbon monoxide (heaters and hot water, tobacco): Anthurium, Dracaena Marginata, Azalea, Boston fern, Pothos. Against xylene (paints, varnishes, insecticides, glues): Anthurium, Chlorophytum, Spathiphyllum, Dracaena Marginata, Azalea, Boston Fern, Ficus Benjamina (or Weeping Fig), Rhapis. Against toluene (paints, varnishes, glues, inks, carpets, rugs): Chlorophytum, Spathiphyllum, Dracaena Marginata, Boston fern, Pothos, Gerbera Jamesonii. Against trichlorethylene (paints, varnishes, glues, metal degreasers): Spathiphyllum, Dracaena Marginata, Gerbera Jamesonii.
Depolluting plants: where to install them in the apartment and under what conditions?
Install the Aglaonema, Dracaena Marginata, Pothos, Rhapis and Anthurium in a shaded but warm room, preferably damp like the bathroom. For them to flourish the temperature must be between 15 and 25 ° C. In contrast, Chlorophytum, Spathiphyllum, Gerbera Jamesonii require bright light, more moderate temperatures and frequent watering. Certain plants (Azalea) originate from subtropical forests, must benefit from an important light and be watered abundantly. Finally, other species can perfectly acclimatize to the atmosphere of a room. This is particularly the case for Boston Fern.
Polluted depolluting plants
In 2010, depolluting plants are at the heart of the controversy. The studies carried out by the Air Quality Observatory (OQAI) join those carried out in 1980 by Bill Wolverton, pioneer on the subject. They confirm the depolluting effectiveness of these plants. However, they have important reservations: in our homes, the action of plants would depend on too many factors to be really effective: brightness, humidity, temperature ... So, if certain results tend to show that their presence decreases indoor pollution, these virtues are in any case far too limited to protect us. Worse, they are accused of being toxic! On this specific point, OQAI studies are tempering: like any plant, especially in the event of flowering or significant presence, they can cause allergic reactions in some people.
Basic actions to fight against indoor pollution
It is common sense more than a magic formula of which the OQAI speaks in its many studies and reports. The priority: limit the sources of pollutants by ventilating your interior as much as possible. And to take advantage, with a little hindsight, of the relaxing and soothing virtues of indoor plants: qualities that no one can dispute. Practical information : www.plantes-depolluantes.com www.oqai.fr