Indoor air pollution has been ranked in the top five of environmental risks to public health. We spend up to 90% of our time indoors and whilst outdoor air pollution has become the height of media attention, we often forget about how clean the air we breathe at home and at work really is.

The lack of ventilation together with a number of chemicals from synthetic building materials, furnishings and cleaning products have been known to cause a number of health issues including asthma and sick building syndrome. Sick building syndrome might be something that many of us suffer from, and whilst the office cold is often to blame, the symptoms of headaches, coughing, irritation to the eyes and throat and an inability to focus could all be down to the air you breathe.

However, there are ways in which this can be avoided with the help of Mother Nature. Household plants not only absorb some of the particulates from the air, the microbes present in the soil of these plants also contribute to a cleaning effect. Household plants have also known to increase productivity, reduce blood pressure and help combat stress. A NASA study on indoor air pollution from 1989 recommends one plant per 100ft2 of floor space or around 8 to 10 plants for the average new build in the UK.

So which one should you get (and manage to keep alive)? It’s always best to go for a household plant that’s easy to care for, so we’ve made a handy list of some perfect plants to help you breathe better in your office or at home!

• Spider plants (also known as air plants) – eliminates formaldehyde and xylene, only needs to be watered two to three times a week

• Dracaenas – eliminates formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, trichloroethylene. Make sure the soil is kept damp but not soggy

• Boston Fern - act as humidifiers so perfect for those who suffer from dry skin in the winter. Also eliminate traces of formaldehyde

• Golden Pothos – easy to care for and eliminate formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene and carbon monoxide

• Areca palms – eliminates formaldehyde, xylene, benzene and ammonia. Make sure it is watered every other day

Lizzie Murray-Clark

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