Saturday, June 14, 2014

What makes Building Materials “Green”?

            What exactly makes one building material green and another not? A selection process of course! A material to be considered green has to fall under the following criteria: resource efficiency, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, water conservation, and affordability. A product is considered to be green based on the impact that the product will have on the environment throughout its life.
            To assess the products before they are deemed to be green there is a product selection process, which involves research, evaluation, and selection. This process starts with the finding of different manufacturer’s products and information on them. This step also usually involves researching environmental and other issues that may arise in relation to the product.
 In the evaluation part of the process the product is tested and the manufacturer’s information is compared with the information that is found by the testing agency. A life cycle assessment (LCA) is also done, and looks at the product from the production process (and where the materials come from) to the expenses that will accumulate from the utilization of the product.
            The final step is the selection process. This part utilizes the scores that are established during the evaluation part of the selection process. The higher the score, the more environmentally friendly attributes it will have. This can also be done on a project-to-project basis so the right products will be utilized for the project.  


If you would like to find more information you can go to the following resources:
http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/greenbuilding/materials/CSIArticle.pdf

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mushrooms As A Building Material



A company named Ecovative Design is manufacturing a wide variety of building materials out of mushrooms. The company has constructed bricks, insulation, packing material, and beams that are as strong as wood. The products are made from roots of the fungus, called mycelia. Mycelium is a thread like network below the ground that connects the visible part of mushrooms above the ground. The mycelium is combined with agricultural waste, like corn stalks. The materials then fuse and can be shaped into solid bricks. Many feel that mushroom based products have the potential to replace many petroleum based plastics.




Ecovative Design built a miniature mushroom house. This project is a small wood-framed house with mushroom insulation. The insulation is similar to standard loose fill insulation except it grows in place, air-seals where it’s grown, and doesn’t settle over time.


·      

  •        Water Resistant

  • ·         Non-toxic flame retardant

  • ·         It emits no carbon, it requires almost zero energy


  • ·         It doesn’t create any waste
 www.ecovativedesign.com

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Resource Management and Economic Stimulation


Industrial materials have more value than most people would expect. Next time you are remodeling your house, or a business is remodeling the importance of recycling the materials being pulled out should be taken into consideration. Did you know that when a building is being torn down up to 90% of recyclable materials are not recycled?

Industrial materials are frequently less costly than new (raw) materials! This means that they are actually more cost beneficial for builders, owners, and individuals! The utilization of repurposed or recycled materials that came out of the building itself during a remodel can actually save money for all parties involved! This means that the money that is saved can go into another project, or another part of the building. There are also companies that specialize in the recycling of industrial materials.

These companies that specialize in recycled materials help boost the economy as well because they create jobs for individuals! Through the creation of jobs to help ensure proper utilization of recyclable materials, in multiple stages of renovation, demolition, and construction green building materials help create new jobs within the local community, and help keep them there! Resource management on construction, demolition, and remodel sites can have positive impacts on the economy.

A perfect example of how resource management throughout the process of constructing a new building can be beneficial is the EPA Potomac Yards in Arlington Virginia. The buildings were constructed with 27% recycled materials. During the construction process a management plan was enacted, and 71% of the materials created during construction of the buildings were kept out of landfills, and taken to recycling companies. The buildings are also LEED® certified, so they have lower operating costs than other buildings.

Resource management is important and once implemented can have positive impacts on the environment, creating green building materials, and helping to create economic growth.








Works Referenced:
http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/imr/pdfs/recy-bldg.pdf
http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/imr/index.htm


Green Building Materials Boost the Economy!


Green building materials have a positive impact on the economy. This is not just due to the production of the environmentally friendly products but through the long term benefits of minimized operating costs for many businesses and households. The economic benefits are in addition to the environmental benefits that come from utilizing green building materials.

Through the production and utilization of green building materials the overall costs to the world, society, individual, environment, and economy is minimized. This is especially true when green building practices utilize resources that are reclaimed, and recycled. Through the utilization of reclaimed building materials increases cost-effectiveness, and helps decrease environmental impacts like the decomposition of materials and instead utilizing these materials through proper deconstruction and repurposing procedures. The Building Materials Reuse Association (BMRA)  is based out of Illinois and works to promote the utilization of reclaimed materials in new construction. The repurposing of old building materials has a positive impact on the economy. This is due to the creation of new jobs and new markets for the economy. This is especially important in the current economic situation.

Green construction utilizing green building products has helped create and/or support 2.4 million jobs, and has created $123 billion in earnings for labor in the time period of 2000-2008. The LEED certified construction that has occurred has created $703 million in labor earnings, and has created $830 million in GDP in the same time frame. Green construction and green building materials create local jobs, and boost the local economy.  All of this in addition to lower operation costs, and decreased building life costs (to operate, etc) helps boost the economy and helps the environment.

Works Referenced:



Cradle To Cradle Products - Helping Us Use Nontoxic Materials

The Cradle To Cradle Institute believes that products should make a positive mark on the world. They have started an independent green standards based program which tests products from building materials to household cleaners and clothing for sustainable elements which comply with their set of standards to rank products from Basic to Platinum. C2C also sponsors innovation contests for inventors to come up with innovative products that will help the us rid the world of harmful toxins, non-biodegradable materials, etc.



Following is a list of C2C certified building materials and home decor materials that can help you make the shift to a non-toxic, sustainable home or office.

Cradle To Cradle Certified Building Materials

Shaw Floors Anso Nylon Carpet

Shaw Eco-Carpet & Flooring

TimberSIL Nontoxic Wood & Glass Products

Benjamin Moore Green Promise Paint

XOREL BIO by Carnegie Interior Textiles

Pendleton Eco Wise Wool Products

ECO by Consentino Recycled Surfaces

Polycor Recycled Glass, Granite, and Marble Countertops

DIY: Tips for Reducing Exposure to Formaldehyde and PBDE’s

Here are some tips for reducing exposure to formaldehyde and PBDE’s:

  • Avoid wall-to-wall carpet
  • Choose solid wood furniture, limit the use of pressed wood products that are made with adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde resins (UF)
  • Ensure foam is intact. Repair or dispose of torn foam items (cushions, pillows, stuffed animals).
  • Look for new items stuffed with polyester, down, wool, or cotton; these are unlikely to contain toxic fire retardants
  • Vacuum often – use a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter vacuum
  • Remove shoes prior to going indoors
  • Clean area rugs with biodegradable cleaners
  • Choose floor coverings and rest mats that are made with natural fibers (cotton, hemp, and wool) that are naturally fire-resistant and contain fewer chemicals.

If you are in the market for a less toxic alternative to your carpet, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends buying carpets that have:

  • Low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Free of toxic dyes
  • Recyclable
  • Contains recycled-content
  • Reduced energy use (from manufacturing)
  • Reduced or improved air emissions (from manufacturing)
Fibers that are safe and eco-friendly include (use for rugs or for broadloom):
  • Wool that has not been treated with unsafe chemicals (naturally flame retardant and repels liquids)
  • Hemp (mold and mildew resistant)

Bamboo flooring is sustainable as bamboo is a grass that grows very quickly, this is known as a rapidly renewable resource.

Cork flooring is also a great alternative, it is incredibly sustainable because it is made from the outer bark of the cork oak tree meaning the tree does not have to be cut down in order to be harvested. Cork can be harvested from a tree every 9 years!

Where to buy:
Shaw Floors
EcoTimber
Home Depot LEED Initiative

Federal Spending and Green Buildings


According to the Department of Energy (DOE), in 2008,
buildings in the United States consumed almost 40 percent of the
nation's energy and emitted about 39 percent of its carbon dioxide, a
greenhouse gas recognized as a major contributor to climate change.
[Footnote 1] In addition, DOE reports that the approximately 30
million to 35 million tons of construction, renovation, and demolition
waste produced annually in the nation accounts for about 24 percent of
municipal solid waste, although as much as 95 percent of this waste
could be recycled. Furthermore, according to the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to indoor air pollutants, such as
radon and formaldehyde, can lead to harmful health effects, from
headaches to respiratory diseases.

More recently, the federal government has also focused on promoting
green building practices in the nonfederal sector. For example, the
Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided tax credits for home improvements
that increase energy efficiency and tax deductions for commercial
buildings that meet specific efficiency standards; the Energy
Independence and Security Act of 2007 authorized $1.52 billion over 10
years, starting in fiscal year 2008, for DOE's efforts to promote
commercial green building in partnership with other federal, as well
as nonfederal, entities; and the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act of 2009 provided at least $13 billion to foster
green building in the nonfederal sector through various agency
initiatives, such as DOE's Weatherization Assistance Program--which is
designed to make long-term energy-efficiency improvements to the homes
of low-income families. Weatherization includes
installing high-efficiency boilers, insulation, and energy-efficient
windows.


According to our analysis, over two-thirds (64) of the 94 initiatives
foster green building directly--that is, one of their primary purposes
is to foster green building through one or more green building
elements. For example, EPA's Indoor Environments Program is intended
to provide resources to promote and protect occupants' health while
saving energy and money.

According to our analysis of questionnaire responses, agencies are
implementing many of the initiatives we identified because they are
required to by statute.

To help assess the results of investments in individual federal
initiatives to foster green building in the nonfederal sector, as well
as their combined results, we recommend that the Secretaries of Energy
and of Housing and Urban Development work with the Administrator of
EPA in leading an effort with other agencies that are implementing
green building initiatives to collaborate on identifying performance
information, such as shared goals and common performance measures, for
green building initiatives for the nonfederal sector. This effort
should include, if necessary, an exploration of the need for
additional legislative or executive authority, such as the authority
to establish a coordinating entity (e.g., an interagency working
group).









Works Referenced:

http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/586023.html

DIY: Battling Mold Without Toxic Chemicals

Finding mold in your home is frustrating but unfortunately it is a very common battle. Most people will grab the bleach and spray away but there are natural ways to combat mold without the harsh chemicals.

Mold Prevention

Mold can have an impact on your health in many ways, and the severity can very from minimal to severe based on your sensitivity to mold. It can cause stuffiness, coughing, wheezing, eye irritation and even depression. It is important that when you discover mold you not only clean it but also prevent it from coming back. 

Tea Tree Oil & Water
  1. Fill a spray bottle with water and add 15 drops of tea tree oil
  2. Spray onto the affected area and leave for 2 hours
  3.  Wipe the affected areas up with paper towels, if the area has completely dried then spray a bit more of the tea tree oil cleaner, this will make the cleanup easier.
  4. A toothbrush or Q-Tip will make getting into the hard to reach areas easier, window and door tracks often are havens for mold.

This cleaner will also work in your tubs and showers!

Ways to Prevent Mold from Developing
  • Use your ventilation fans for at least 30 minutes after using the shower
  • Ensure your house is at the proper humidity
  • Open your windows
  • Clean up any water & condensation that has accumulated
  • Leave your front loader washing machine door open when not in use
  • Stretch your shower curtain out after use to allow it to dry
  • Leave the shower door open after use to allow proper air circulation
  • Use vinegar to wash dehumidifiers a few times a month

Non-Toxic Adhesive for Wood Paneling, A Research Review


There are a number of sources that contribute to the toxic environment in which we live. Air pollutants, contaminants and particulates originate from materials that are used in our built environment. These pollutants are typically chemicals or additives that are used as a part of the overall products such as the additives that increase the durability and sheen of paint, or adhesives that harden wood paneling. The latter is one case in which there has been a level of research aimed at reducing the emissions of toxic contaminants, from the hardening adhesive, to zero.


The article, “Non-Toxic, zero emission tannin-glyoxal adhesive for wood panels” by Ballerini, Despres and Pizzi, discusses the desire to analyze tannin adhesives, that are used as wood paneling adhesives or hardeners. The overarching goal of this research is to investigate adhesives that have little to zero formaldehyde emissions. The adverse health effects of formaldehyde, which are well documented, include eye irritation, inflammation of the throat and difficulty breathing. Each of these symptoms are congruent with Sick Building Syndrome, which is a group of symptoms that are the results of toxic pollutants found in building materials, including formaldehyde.


The article states that while there are currently some adhesive that emit very low levels of formaldehyde emissions, additional research was needed to determine what adhesive would be the best to use. The article indicates that tannin-glyoxal is a non-volatile aldehyde that is non-toxic.  This is an optimal adhesive used in the curing and treatment of wood.

This type of research is exactly the type of study that is required in order develop and improve materials that are used in the built environment. With adequate effort and funding, enough products will be developed so that our living and working environments can be free of toxic emissions.


Aesthetically Displeased: Toxic Painting and How to Avoid Self-Exposure


Our living rooms, children's bedrooms and the rooms in which we eat are being remodeled, refurnished and renovated all the time. While these processes succeed in changing our homes to make them more attractive, it also succeeds in contributing to the toxic environment in which we live.


Volatile organic compounds(VOCs) that are found in many materials in our homes are detrimental to our health and the health of our families. Treated wood paneling and flooring, carpet backing, treated fabrics, plastics and paints all contain chemicals that contribute to the pollution of the air that we breath. While the link between VOC's and adverse health aspects isn't as clear as cigarette smoking and lung disease, there is a large body of research that supports the relationship between poor indoor air quality and upper-respiratory difficulties and bronchial concerns.


The average American family re-paints their homes approximately every 2.5 years. The common house paint contains greater the five grams per liter(> 5 g/L) of VOC's that can off-gas after the paint has dried. This means that over a 20-year period, homes are being filled with fumes about eight times from paint alone. While everyone needs a change of color from time to time, there are alternatives that can be used to reduce or even eliminate the amount of VOC exposure as a result of off-gas from paint. Currently, there are a number of companies that are producing low-VOC and VOC-free paint. The EPA states that fresh paint is one of the largest contributing factors to poor indoor air quality, so by changing our remodeling behaviors by simply selecting a less-toxic paint, we can greatly reduce the level of VOCs in our homes.


Here are a few of a paint brands that are less toxic:

YOLO Colorhouse – An Oregon-based company that provides zero-VOC paint in a range of 92 colors. Their paints are water-based and Green Seal certified.

Green Planet Paints - Green Planet touts patent-pending, mineral-based paint that is low to zero VOC. Green Planet Paints have 48 standard colors and 120 mineral and clay-based paints.


Benjamin Moore Natura Paint – Natura paint is a high-quality, water-based paint that is
 
categorized as low to non-VOC. It is considered to be 100% colorless and can be found in virtually
 
any color.



Fortunately, there are a plethora of options for low or non-VOC paints. This is an easy way to greatly reduce one of the largest contributors to toxic indoor-air. Using some of these methods, we can have a healthy environment and colorful homes.







Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Nontoxic Household Cleaners


Having a toxin-free home is great, but you might be undoing some of your work by using regular chemicals to clean that green home. Two examples of common toxic ingredients are chlorine bleach and ammonia. Chlorine bleach kills bacteria and viruses, but it’s also harmful to your skin and eyes if you touch it. If chlorine bleach is mixed with ammonia or acidic cleaners, it gives off toxic gases. It’s also the most common household cleaner to be ingested by children and make them sick. Ammonia alone can also give off toxic fumes and irritate your eyes or respiratory tract.

What else can you use to keep your home clean without using harmful chemicals?

  • Hydrogen peroxide kills mold, kills bacteria, and removes stains. Hydrogen-peroxide bleach is safer than chlorine bleach.
  • White vinegar kills mold, cuts through soap scum, and kills bacteria. It can be mixed with water to make a glass cleaner.
  • Baking soda can be mixed with a little soap to make a scrub for countertops or bathtubs.
  • Liquid castile soap + tea tree oil + water can be used as a general disinfectant and cleaner.
  • Salt + lime juice makes a rust remover. Put a little salt on the rust spot, then squeeze a good amount of lime juice on the salt. Wait 2-3 hours, then scrub.
  • Essential oils can be used to get a pleasant scent, instead of using scented chemicals.

For further information, click here.

Garden Toxins, Honey Bees, and Agriculture

Many people enjoy having a garden in their yard of even on an apartment porch or balcony. It's a relaxing way to enjoy nature. But did you know that the choices you make in your garden can affect larger ecosystems and even agriculture?


With plants come insects - some beneficial, and some that might harm your plants. To protect their plants, some people use insecticides. One of the most common classes of insecticide chemicals is neonicotinoids. This type of chemical is structurally similar to nicotine, and it works by damaging the central nervous system (similar to the brain in humans and other complex animals).

Of course, honey bees are insects, too, but we want honey bees to stay alive. Neonicotinoids were tested for lethal effects in bees and thought to be safe because they did not kill bees during the studies. However, more recent studies have concluded that, while neonicotinoids do not directly kill bees, they have serious nonlethal effects. They cause decreased levels of certain enzymes, like acetycholinesterase, that are necessary for the nervous system to function correctly. After ingesting neonicotinoids along with pollen, or even absorbing the chemicals across their skin, bees show behavioral changes, they lose sensitivity to smells, and their learning and memory is impaired. Bees rely on smells and memory to gather food, so these changes can indirectly kill bees.

Honey bees pollinate a lot of plants, including many crops that are grown to feed humans. A decrease in honey bee populations harms the economy and makes some crops more expensive and less available. It also harms the environment by reducing the populations of many plants, which then reduces the availability of food and shelter to the animals that depend on these plants.

When you are working on your garden, try to avoid using chemical insecticides. Read the label of any chemicals that you do use. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency requires neonicotinoids to be labeled with a warning that they harm bees.



Sources:
Cresswell, J. E. (2011). A meta-analysis of experiments testing the effects of a neonicotinoid insecticide (imidacloprid) on honey bees. Ecotoxicology, 20(1), 149-157.
Boily, M., Sarrasin, B., DeBlois, C., Aras, P., & Chagnon, M. (2013). Acetylcholinesterase in honey bees (Apis mellifera) exposed to neonicotinoids, atrazine, and glyphosphate: laboratory and field experiments. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 20(8), 5603-5614.
El Hassani, A. K., Dacher, M., Gary, V., Lambin, M., Gauthier, M., & Armengaud, C. (2008). Effects of sublethal doses of acetamiprid and thiamethoxam on the behavior of the honey bee (Apis mellifera). Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 54(4), 653-661.
Stankus, T. (2008). A review and bibliography of the literature of honey bee colony collapse disorder: A poorly understood epidemic that clearly threatens the successful pollination of billions of dollars of crops in America. Journal of Agricultural & Food Information, 9(2), 115-143.

Toxins in Art Classes

Earlier in this blog, we talked about some potential toxins found in school buildings. There are additional toxins that students are exposed to within those schools, besides the toxins in the buildings themselves. The most obvious toxin exposure occurs during science labs, such as chemistry, but you might be surprised to learn that art classes can also be a source of toxins.

Photography is a popular class. Photography majors take it, other art students take it, and even non-art-majors often take introductory photo classes as fun electives. Darkroom photography is especially fun because you get to learn very hands-on techniques and learn about the history of photography. But some of the chemicals required to process film and develop photographs are known to be toxic.


  • Black & white developer is somewhat toxic and causes irritation of the skin and respiratory tract.
  • Color developer is especially toxic, and can harm your nervous system if absorbed across the skin.
  • Stop bath, the solution that stops the developer from over-developing, is also very toxic.
  • Multiple chemicals can create allergies or worsen already existing allergies.
  • Toners can release toxic hydrogen sulfide if they are mixed with acids. Where might these acids come from in a photo classroom? From the stop bath and fixer that you use a few steps prior to toner. The long water bath that comes between these steps is important because it prevents the mixing of stop bath, fixer, and toners.
What can you do to stay safe while still enjoying making photographs?

Pay attention to the safety rules. Read all safety information provided in the syllabus, look at warning labels in the classroom, and listen to your professor's and TA's instructions. Don't place your bare hand into the chemicals to retrieve your photograph. Use the tongs instead, or wear gloves if you dislike using tongs. Don't rush the water baths, even though they can seem very long. Never mix chemicals that you have not been instructed to mix. You don't want to create an unintended science experiment by mixing chemicals on your photograph or film.

For a fun, non-toxic alternative to darkroom chemicals, try developing your film at home using non-toxic methods. The Frugal Photographer has a recipe and instructions on how to process film using instant coffee, vitamin C, washing soda, and water.

To be even more green, try reusing a coffee tin, a light-proof box, or a large can to make your own pinhole camera. You can get a surprisingly clear image this way. You can choose to not fully light-proof your camera, and get some interesting, unpredictable effects that would be well paired with a DIY developer. Or you can fully light-proof it, using electrical tape to cover any light leaks.



Monday, June 9, 2014

THE FUTURE OF GREEN BUILDING

SOLAR ROADWAYS

Scott & Julie Brusaw had a ridiculous idea in 2009. What if the US replaced all of our roads with solar panels? After years of hard work, innovation and design, Scott & Julie have an effective prototype that could very well become the future. They made a stellar YouTube video to explain all the benefits we could enjoy if all roads in the United States were converted to the "Solar FREAKIN' Roadways"...enjoy.




ALGAE-POWERED BUILDING

The world's first algae-powered building recently opened in Hamburg, Germany. The building is completely, 100%, powered by algae. Inside the glass panels of the windows, there is a green liquid which contains algae. This algae serves as a sort of bio-reactor, which is built into the window panes. The algae heat the building, and any excess heat generated is stored underground for use in the cold winters. The heat is generated through photosynthesis. When the algae dies it can be collected and used as a food supplement. This food base is rich in minerals. Check out details of the project in the video & links below.




KNOW YOUR PLASTICS


Dioxins are created during the production/manufacturing process and when chlorinated plastics are burned accidentally or intentionally during disposal.Dioxins are created during the production/manufacturing process and when chlorinated plastics are burned accidentally or intentionally during disposal.

Make sure to look for the plastics with the recycle markings 1, 2, 4 & 5. Avoid purchasing plastics with 3, 6, 7 and higher number recycle ratings.

CHOOSING PLASTICS


SHIPPING CONTAINER LOVE

There are over 300 million shipping containers sitting, completely empty, in ports around the world. It is too expensive for the country to ship their containers back. It is much cheaper for these countries to buy new ones. The average life of a shipping container in the shipping service is 10-15 years, but the steel frame will maintain strength for much longer. Containers are designed to be weather tight, immune to mold, bugs, and the elements. The steel frame is so strong that they can stack the containers 9-12 tall (fully loaded up to 153,000 pounds). Building with shipping containers has become a popular application all over the world due foremost to their superior strength, and inexpensive costs (some used containers can sell for as little as $900). It also helps to reduce waste and turn that waste into shelter. Containers have been used to construct: homes, hotels,  workshops, low income housing, swimming pools, tornado shelters, garages, offices and classrooms.



Saturday, June 7, 2014

10 NASA Approved Houseplants to Improve Indoor Air Quality


Did you know in the 1980’s NASA conducted studies in how houseplants can aid in the purification of indoor air? If we think about it, it makes complete sense. Astronauts spend months contained in environments with stagnant, regulated air. Any help they can get to increase the purity of the air around them would be welcome while orbiting the earth. Here are the top 10 houseplants NASA has found to be effective in purifying toxins from the air. By taking a little bit of time to include these plants in your home or work environments, you can help neutralize the toxins you come into contact with.

Aloe Vera
Aloe plants are easy to grow for even the most plant challenged, they can aid in the healing process if applied to burns or cuts but they also help filter Benzene from the air. Benzene is found in paint and chemical cleaners.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
The Peace Lily is a staple plant around Easter time but other than producing beautifully unique flowers, the Peace Lily helps improve air quality by up to 60%! The leaves absorb mold spores from the air and transport them to the roots to be used as food. Harmful vapors from Alcohols and Acetone are also absorbed.

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Another easy to grow plant is the Spider Plant and this air cleansing plant can help remove up to 90% of toxins from the air within just 2 days! If you suffer from dust allergies, the Spider Plant is for you. It helps remove mold and other allergens from the air as well as small traces of Formaldehyde and Carbon Monoxide.

English Ivy (Hedera helix)
The English Ivy is one plant us Oregonians see everywhere, so much so it is considered an invasive weed, but when contained in a pot it becomes an air-cleaning powerhouse. Keep one on your desk at work for it is proven to help you focus while filtering harmful Formaldehyde, which is found in various cleaning products, furniture and carpeting. It can also help remove trace amount of Benzene too. Best of all, for those with pets it helps remove fecal matter from the air!

Sword/Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
One of the most popular houseplants is the Sword or Boston Fern which acts as a humidifier, regulating moisture in the air. They also help filter out trace amounts of Formaldehyde.

Heart Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
Also known as the Sweetheart Plant, this climbing vine helps remove Formaldehyde from the air but it should be kept high enough so pets and children cannot eat the leaves, as they are toxic.

Eucalyptus
This favorite of Koalas is not easily found in houseplant form but if you happen across one, it is worth buying. The leaves contain tannins that help keep your breathing passages in working order and breathing in the scent can help ward off colds by lowering congestion.

African Violets (Saintpaulia)
These pretty purple flowers can help you relax just because of their color. It releases adrenaline when you gaze upon it, increasing oxygen flow to your brain. They grow well in artificial light as well, making them great additions to the office or rooms with indirect sunlight.

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
This long-living cousin of the Heart Leaf Philodendron helps filter through toxins in the air, it also produces small red berries adding a touch of color to the green leafs. Like most of these houseplants, the longer you keep it, the more toxins it will remove from the air.

Chrysanthemum
Also known as mums, these common flowers help filter Benzene from the air. An added benefit is that they come in a variety of colors and sizes and can be easily found at your local nursery.

Any one of these houseplants can help remove Benzene, Formaldehyde, Carbon Monoxide, mold, dust and many other toxins that affect our indoor air quality. A simple purchase and some minor regular care will have you on your way to breathing free and feeling better.

Source Materials: