Toxic Chemicals Out-Gassing Into Our Homes

Yesterday when we spoke you recommended putting a corn dracaena in the bedroom to help with my lung issues. Will other varieties of dracaena (e.g. Warneckii, Marginata, Janet Craig etc.) work as well? It's a matter of availability, size and aesthetics.

House construction involves many chemicals that out-gas, causing many problems, such as emphysema, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, allergies and severe chemical sensitivity. As the building-material toxicity collects in our bodies, we are likely to develop one or more of the above diseases. That largely depends on where in our bodies those chemicals store. In my books, I stated what is necessary to remove toxins from the body. Here, I share how to naturally remove those chemicals from the air in your home.

If your house, apartment or condo was built, remodeled, renovated or painted in the last 5 years, you can cure your house by placing 2-3 filament space heaters and an infrared generator in each room. Slightly open one or two windows in each room and hallway. Remove all electronic equipment and furniture. Turn on infrared generator, and heaters to highest heat. Let rooms cook slowly for 3-5 days. If water-based paint, 24 hours will do but any other paint and construction material will require 3-5 days to cure.

After curing rooms and halls, place fans in every room and hall, open all windows and doors fully and let ventilate for 2-3 days with fans on high.

You may cure one room at a time so that you do not have to remove all of the furniture from your home but be certain to keep the door closed and sealed to the room that you will cure. Afterward, any mild outgassing that may occur can be neutralized by plants.

NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) announced the findings of a 2-years study suggesting that common indoor plants can help combat "SICK BUILDING SYNDROME". Common indoor plants in your office or home are not only decorative but NASA scientists found them to be useful in absorbing potentially harmful gases and cleaning air inside modern buildings.

Research using biological processes to resolve environmental problems on Earth and in spatial habitats has been performed for many years by Dr. Bill Wolverton, formerly a senior research scientist at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Based on preliminary evaluations, ALCA joined NASA to fund a study using about a dozen popular varieties of ornamental plants to determine their effectiveness in removing several key pollutants associated with indoor air pollution. NASA research on indoor plants found that living plants are so efficient at absorbing contaminants in the air that some will be launched into space as part of the biological life support system aboard future space stations.

Each plant type was placed in sealed Plexiglas chambers in which chemicals were injected. Philodendron, spider plant and the golden pothos were labeled the most effective in removing formaldehyde molecules. Flowering plants such as gerbera daisy and chrysanthemums were rated superior in removing benzene from the chamber atmosphere. Other good performers are Dracaena Massangeana, Spathiphyllum, and Golden Pothos. "Plants take substances out of the air through the tiny openings in their leaves," Wolverton said. "But research in our laboratories has determined that plant leaves, roots and soil bacteria are all important in removing trace levels of toxic vapors".

Plants in your home or office will improve the quality of the air, making them more pleasant places to live and work. People will feel better, perform better, and enjoy life more.

TRICHLOROETHYLENE (TCE) is a commercial product found in many industrial and home uses. Although over 90 percent of the TCE produced is used in the metal degreasing and dry cleaning industries, TCE is used in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, and adhesives. In 1975 the National Cancer Institute reported that an unusually high incidence of hepatocellular carcinomas was observed in mice given TCE by gastric intubation and now considers this chemical a potent liver carcinogen.

BENZENE is a commonly used solvent and is present in many products including gasoline, inks, oils, paints, plastics, rubber, detergents, explosives, pharmaceuticals, and dyes. In tests, benzene irritated skin and eyes. It proved to cause mutagenic bacterial cells, embryotoxicity and carcinogenicity. Also, evidence shows that benzene may contribute to chromosomal aberrations and leukemia in humans. Repeated skin contact with benzene causes dryness, inflammation, blistering and dermatitis. Acute inhalation of high levels of benzene causes dizziness, weakness, euphoria, headache, nausea, blurred vision, respiratory diseases, tremors, irregular heartbeat, liver and kidney damage, paralysis and unconsciousness. In animal tests, inhalation of benzene led to cataract formation and diseases of the blood and lymphatic systems. Chronic exposure to low levels causes headaches, loss of appetite, drowsiness, nervousness, psychological disturbances and diseases of the blood system, including anemia and bone marrow diseases.

FORMALDEHYDE is a ubiquitous chemical found in virtually all indoor environments. The major sources include urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) and particle board or pressed wood products used in manufacturing office furniture. Many common household cleaning agents contain formaldehyde. It is used in consumer paper products treated with UF resins, including grocery bags, waxed papers, toilet and facial tissues, paper towels, stiffeners, wrinkle resisters, water repellents, fire retardants and adhesive binders in floor coverings, carpet backings and permanent-press clothes. Other sources of formaldehyde include heating and cooking fuels like natural gas, kerosene, and cigarette smoke. The most widely reported symptoms of formaldehyde are headaches and irritation to mucous membranes of eyes, nose and throat. It is highly reactive and combines with protein, causing allergic contact dermatitis and asthma. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently conducted research demonstrating that formaldehyde is suspect in causing a rare type of throat cancer in long-term occupants of mobile homes.

CARBON MONOXIDE is found in cigarette smoke and is produced by the incomplete combustion of fuel. Exposure to low levels can cause drowsiness and headaches.

Of the few plants tested, here are the top 10 plants most effective in removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air:

Plant name Scientific name
Bamboo Palm Chamaedorea Seifritzii
Chinese Evergreen Aglaonema Modestum
English Ivy Hedera Helix
Gerbera Daisy Gerbera Jamesonii
Janet Craig Dracaena "Janet Craig"
Marginata Dracaena Marginata
Mass cane/Corn Plan Dracaena Massangeana
Mother-in-Law's Tongue Sansevieria Laurentii
Pot Mum Chrysantheium Morifolium
Peace Lily Spathiphyllum "Mauna Loa"
Warneckii Dracaena "Warneckii"

The most effective at removing formaldehyde were philodendron, spider plant, and golden pothos. Gerbera daisy and chrysanthemum (mum) are common flowering varieties that were most efficient at removing benzene. Peace lily and chrysanthemum were most efficient at removing trichoroethylene.

All plants produce oxygen by photosynthesis, increasing oxygen in their immediate surroundings. All plants utilize carbon while producing new growth and are effective at removing low levels of carbon monoxide, cleaning our air, including English ivy, Chinese evergreen, bamboo palm, snake plant (mother-in-law's tongue), and the Dracaena Marginata, corn plant, and Janet Craig. Generally, one large plant per 100 square feet will clean air in an average home or office. More heavily polluted environments require greater concentrations of plants.