Winter has given us only a whiff of cold, and spring is in the air. Avid gardeners are plotting their first outdoor plantings. Soon, crocus and tulips will sprinkle the outdoors with magical colors, gifts for the soul. Indoor plants, like their outdoor cousins, can provide beauty and make for a more healthful environment. As we look through our windows to the outdoors it may do us well to cast our eyes around our living quarters. A splash of color here. Lush greenery there. All in the interest of health. Indoor plants and a healthful home, what do you know, T or F?

Winter has given us only a whiff of cold, and spring is in the air. Avid gardeners are plotting their first outdoor plantings. Soon, crocus and tulips will sprinkle the outdoors with magical colors, gifts for the soul. Indoor plants, like their outdoor cousins, can provide beauty and make for a more healthful environment. As we look through our windows to the outdoors it may do us well to cast our eyes around our living quarters. A splash of color here. Lush greenery there. All in the interest of health. Indoor plants and a healthful home, what do you know, T or F?

1. The most common exposure to benzene is through paints.

2. Some plants can remove radon and phenols from air.

3. A building or home can be “sick” with pollutants.

The winter of 2012 has hardly given us a second thought. Oh, we will get more freezing weather, but time is running out for any prolonged cold spell. Still, this weather teases us into thinking it is safe to plant early. It plays with our emotions to impulsively plant something, anything, just to watch it grow. Local weather folks say not so fast. Freezing weather will likely come before the dawn of spring, but, of course, not in the climate-controlled 70 degrees of our homes. I see opportunity.

Indoor air can contain many different toxins and chemicals from a variety of sources. Formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene, by-products of manufacturing processes, are chemicals commonly found in homes. Smoke from cigarettes and cigars contain known carcinogens. Air fresheners may hide odors but they do so by emitting chemicals into the air. Aerosolized and evaporating disinfectants, and cleaning solutions find their way into our indoor air. Small amounts may not be a direct threat to health, but optimizing the air we breathe, especially considering we spend about 90% of our time indoors, may provide both short and long-term health benefits.

Plants can improve indoor air quality by removing toxins and manufacturing oxygen. We require oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Plants chemically convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. This has the makings of a very nice long-term relationship.

A NASA study indicated that plants could remove toxins from air. The study also indicated plants filter other potentially harmful pollutants. B.C. Woverton, Ph. D., former NASA scientist and author of “How to Grow Fresh Air – 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office” recommends adding greenery to your indoor scenery to enhance air quality. He has high praise for English Ivy, Bamboo Palm, Peace Lily, Lady Palm and rubber plants. Christopher Gavigan of Healthy Child Health World agrees with the English Ivy and Peace Lily and also suggests the following for their air purifying abilities, ease of care and beauty:

Chinese Evergreen Golden Pothos (Devil’s Ivy) Snake Plant Daisies Chrysanthemums Spider Plants Australian Umbrella Tree Dracaena Ficus Philodendrons Aloe Vera Boston fern

Get an early start on springtime planting. Survey your indoor landscape, apply creativity, a little dirt, and voila, you’re an indoor gardener! No protecting plants from frost. No fights with squirrels and deer relishing the fruits of our labor. Now that will have us all breathing more easily.

Answers:

1. F Smoking and second-hand smoker

2. T

3. T So-called Sick Building Syndrome