In this technological age, we can spend 90 per cent or more of our time indoors, so making sure that the air we are breathing is healthy should be top of our to-do list.

Photocopiers, adhesives, cosmetics, solvents, insulating foams, paints, cleaning liquids, particle board, carpet, unflued heaters, certain lighting, plastics, correction fluids – all potentially emit volatile compounds like formaldehyde, according to the Department of Environment and Energy. Even overcrowded rooms can have an unhealthy build-up of carbon dioxide, when several humans are breathing out the gas in a small, well-insulated space.

Symptoms to look out for

Giddiness and headache, eye irritation, lack of concentration, skin reactions, respiratory problems, nausea, and fatigue. Health effects vary from person to person and some people develop no symptoms at all, but to limit the risk to your health, it pays to have some clean-air strategies in place.

Let’s clear the air

The most obvious and simplest solution is to ventilate the room by opening a window but that’s not always an option, for instance in the case of a tall office building. Another very effective – and beautifying – strategy to improve indoor air quality is to harness the power of plant life.

Nature (and science) to the rescue

These plants are NASA scientist-approved for helping clear airborne toxins:

Boston Ferns: Boston ferns remove more formaldehyde than any other plant. They’re also highly efficient at removing other indoor air pollutants, such as benzene and xylene –components of car exhaust that can migrate indoors.

Palm Trees: Palm trees seem particularly good at removing indoor air pollutants, specifically formaldehyde, and they’re relatively easy to care for. The best at formaldehyde removal is the dwarf date palm, but a bamboo palm, areca palm or lady palm will also do the job.

Rubber Plants: These do not like sunlight and are top of the list for removing formaldehyde, which is particularly important in offices where most furniture is made from particle board held together by formaldehyde-based glues.

Healthworks

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