Many people are not aware of the sick home syndrome. You only know that you get headaches at home or feel slightly dizzy sometimes or you have a persistent cough, sinus or nausea. When you go to someone’s house, the airconditioner may be on but the smell or feeling of claustrophia won’t go away. On the other hand when you walk into someone else’s house you feel lighter and happier and breathe better.
These reactions are not psychological. They are related to chemicals poisoning the house. Indoor pollutants include carpets, airconditioners,wall panelling, paint, electrical equipment, plastics even stationary items and they build up.The typical symptoms of sickbuilding syndrome – which is recognised by the World Health Organisation -are lethargy,dull headaches, irritability, irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, asthma. Marriages that split up because of irritability might have been saved if you had looked at the house instead of the people !Over the last 25 years the number of chemical emitting products that are used in homes have increased : chipboard, plywood, veneers, polish, plastics, artificial fibres, insecticides, cleaners,solvents, sprays. All these contribute to the toxic atmosphere of an already polluted city.
Plants when placed together inside your house increase the moisture content and bring down the room temperature. Which means that you need to run your coolers and airconditioners for shorter periods. This is not only financially a good proposition but very environmentally friendly as less energy is used and so less coal is burnt and the city is polluted less. Make sure that you locate each plant in natural light and put it out once a week. Plants that are grouped together stay healthier.
The solutions lie in two directions. The first is removing these things from the house. But this is often not possible. The second solution is one that scientists have come out with after years of experimentation. Using houseplants that are capable of removing chemicals from the air, absorbing them and degrading them biologically.
Benzene, Formaldehyde and Trichloroethylene are the main chemicals in your home and office. Let us go one by one :
- Benzene: This is derived from petroleum hydrocarbons. It is found in tobacco smoke. In fact all types of smoke contain it. So do synthetic fibres and all plastics (count the plastic items in your house starting from soap dishes. Plastic smells but we don’t notice because we have become accustomed to the smell from birth), synthetic inks, rubbers, florescent highlighters. Benzene is a chronic poison and carcinogen. It irritates the eyes and skin, causes headaches, drowsiness, nervousnesss, fatigue and pschcological disturbances.
- Formaldehyde: Also known as methanol. It is found in particle board, chip board, resins, foam insulations, plywood and synthetic carpeting. Some cheap household cleaners also have it and some shampoos. It irritates the eyes, nose, throat, and is a cause of headaches.
- Trichloroethylene: Found in adhesives, varnishes, dryclean clothes, inks, laquers and paints. It is a potent liver carcinogen.
The plants that have been found to be active in neutralising these chemicals are:
Spathiphyllum (common name – Peace Lily)
Nephrolepsis (Fishbone fern)
Phoenix roebelinii (Pygmy date palm)
Chamaedorea (Bamboo palm).
Several spider plants (Chlorophytum Elatum) hung up all over the house are particurlarly effective in breaking down the chemical buildup. All these plants are commonly found inIndia, check with your local
nursery and bring them home today.
Besides ridding the air of chemicals plants also absorb smells. In poorly ventilated houses , indoor plants, by absorbing the domestic emissions, not only provide fresh air but also much needed oxygen. During photosynthesis, plants release large amounts of water into the air. Plants when placed together inside your house increase the moisture content and bring down the room temperature. Which means that you need to run your coolers and airconditioners for shorter periods. This is not only financially a good proposition but very environmentally friendly as less energy is used and so less coal is burnt and the city is polluted less. Make sure that you locate each plant in natural light and put it out once a week. Plants that are grouped together stay healthier. Some of the most effective air cleansing plants are:
Dwarf Banana Golden Pathos (Soindapsus aureus)
Mother in law’s tongue(Sansevieria)