These last few days the pollution has returned… and lingered. Just looking out the window anyone can tell the levels are very, very bad. For verification you can check this website. It reports the numbers from the particle monitoring station of the U.S. Embassy. A very useful website to bookmark! I’m sure many of you have your air purifiers running full speed and are keeping your windows closed, but did you know there’s something else that can really help purify the air in your home? I’m taking about houseplants! There are many small plants that can easily be maintained, remove harmful toxins and produce oxygen to generate clean air.
You might have seen this very useful beijingkids blog post in the past. However there are many more houseplants that can create clean air indoors. Check out this great book called, How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office. It’s written by one of the researchers who worked on creating a self-sufficient life-support system for a NASA lunar habitat. Using houseplants alone, enough oxygen can be created in a closed environment to sustain life, and harmful toxins such as ammonia, formaldehyde and benzene can be effectively removed. This is exactly how we survive on our planet; thanks to the living processes of plants. So if plants can create clean air in a closed environment, they can definitely do the same in our homes, absorbing toxins and creating oxygen.
Some of the plants mentioned in the book are the leafy Boston Fern (波斯顿蕨) it is helpful for producing oxygen, the Peace Lily (百合花) is excellent in removing VOC’s, and Aloe Vera (芦荟) releases oxygen at night making it a great choice in the bedroom. Flowering plants such as Florist’s Mum (菊花), Poinsettias (一品红), Azaleas (杜鹃花), and Orchids (兰花) are good for eliminating toxins such as chemical vapours.
Outdoor pollution seeping into our homes isn’t the only problem we face in our attempt to breathe clean air. Indoor pollution is also a real cause for concern. Chemicals are often used in the manufacturing of household goods such as furniture and fabrics. Electronic equipment and other items made with synthetic materials release substances known as VOC’s (Volatile Organic Chemicals). Many VOC’s can cause cancer, reproductive abnormalities and birth defects. Houseplants can easily remove these from the air we breathe.
I love the book How to Grow Fresh Air, and I highly recommend it. It’s a very practical book; a quick and easy read, and very applicable to our lives in China. Each plant is rated based on its effectiveness in cleaning the air, transpiration rates and ease of maintenance. It describes how to care for each plant in detail and provides very clear pictures of each plant. It’s easy to take to a florist and request a plant, even if you don’t know the Chinese name.
There are many flower markets throughout Beijing, Laitai Flower Market and Liangma Flower Market in Chaoyang District and Zhongshu Grand Forest Flower Trade Market in Haidian, just to name a few. Most will deliver for a small fee or free if you order a lot. So transform your home into a jungle and breathe easy!
Dr. Melissa Rodriguez is a Naturopathic doctor who lives with her family in Beijing. www.drmelissarodriguez.com