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Toxins in our indoor air at: home, at work & in our children’s classrooms & Houseplants that can help

 


Today, dangerous chemicals are commonly found in our homes, our offices, and in our children’s classrooms. Hundreds of poisonous chemicals are released into the air we breath by, furniture, building materials, carpets, household cleaners, cosmetics, perfumes, air fresheners, etc. These chemicals are trapped inside, especially in closed ventilation systems. These chemicals result in a broad range of respiratory and allergic reactions. Some are even believed to cause cancer. Our children are the ones at most risk. It has become a time when every person has to do his or her own research on these things. The makers of these products are not going to tell you of the dangers of their products (for one thing it’s a multimillion dollar industry), but information about the dangers can be easily found and read by going online and using a search engine tool like Google. Try googling things like: “are cleaners making me sick”, or “reports about consumer safety and household cleaners”, etc. We, unfortunately and falsely, think we are kept safe by those who supposedly monitor and control such things. I, myself, do not rely on those people whose job it is to protect the consumers because some of them may not even be educated enough or have enough integrity to even be able to protect our children or me.  Also, many times the dangers of products, including some drugs, are only known after dire results have already occurred. We have all seen the commercials on television where lawyers invite anyone with a variety of life threatening situations or deceased family members stemming from the use of different chemicals and drugs to call them to join their law suits. I, if I can help it, prefer not to be a human guinea pig.

We have to stop being controlled by TV, radio, and magazine commercials that want us to purchase the hundreds of products that are poisoning us, the consumers.  Our ancestors were healthier when they did not have to think they had to chemically disinfect their homes and shower every day exposing their bodies and lungs to a multitude of chemicals, nor did they buy or use the man made chemically treated conveniences, like plastic bottles for one, that are available today. The most commonly found chemicals include benzene (a known cause of leukemia), benzene derivatives like toluene, xylene and phenol.  Also found are other hydrocarbons such as formaldehyde, trichlorethylene (TCE), and styrene that is found in plastics. These chemicals are fat-soluble, which means they easily pass into lipid cell membranes and are able to pass easily into one’s bloodstream when they are inhaled. Once these chemicals are in the body, they easily pass into the brain resulting in symptoms that include depression, inability to think straight, dizziness, exhaustion, and headache. I have been listening to a scanner for several years here in Akwesasne, and the number of calls for people with shortness of breath and asthma is astoundingly high, and as the weeks go by they seem to be escalating.  Luckily, there are some things we can do about this!

A Dr. Wolveron, a noted scientist who worked with NASA, discovered that houseplants are the best filters of some of the most common indoor pollutants. The list of chemicals they filter includes formaldehyde, ammonia, and benzene. Fortunately, it is possible to bring into your homes and offices the same benefits found in our shrinking rainforest. Plants are the lungs of Mother Earth. Plants produce oxygen, add moisture to the air, and they filter out toxins. Not only do plants benefit us by filtering out toxins, they also add moisture that keeps air humidity levels within the healthy range of 35% to 65%. Humidity levels when they rise above 70% cause mold and mildew problems for people. Humidity levels when too low and below 35% irritates the sensitive membranes in the nose.

The following is a list of some of the common chemicals found in indoor air, the sources of these chemical emissions, and their common side effects. This information is based on a 1991 EPA Study (complied by Julia Kendall (1935-1997) distributed by the Environmental Health Network. You can find additional information in a book entitled, “Tired or Toxic?” by Sherry A. Rodgers, MD (ISBN 0-9618821-2-3. The following information and symptoms are not experienced by every individual in the same ways because a lot has to do with the concentration of exposure, and the age and health of each person. Also, numerous studies and research indicate that the chemicals tend to build-up in our body’s tissues over time and through extended use and or exposure. The following partial list of chemicals and where and what they are found in will be followed by some of the plants that will help to filter out their toxins. The plants are listed with the best first and then descend in order.

1. FORMALDEHYDE (it is found in: shampoos, conditioners, toothpastes, cosmetics, air fresheners, carpet & carpet pads, mattresses, couches, foam cushions, cigarettes, particle boards, floor & ceiling tiles, household cleaners, permanent press clothing, plastics, shopping malls and fabric stores) Repetitive exposure can lead to build up in blood stream, manifesting as symptoms which include: fatigue, depression, poor memory, inability to concentrate, brain fog, headache, dizziness, flushing of face, burning of eyes & throat, chronic cough, asthma symptoms, heart palpitations. Plants that remove FORMALDEHYDE: The best are: Boston Fern, Florist’s Mum, Gerbera Daisy, Dwarf Date Palm, Janet Craig, Bamboo Palm, Kimberly Queen Fern, Rubber Plant, English Ivy. Moderate: Weeping Fig, Peace Lily, Areca Palm, Corn Plant, Lady Palm, Schefflera, Dragon Tree, Warneckei, Lily Turf, Dendrobium Orchid, Dumb Cane (Exotica), Tulip, Ficus Alii, King of Hearts, Parlor Palm, Azelea, Chinese Evergreen, Spider Plant, Banana.

2. XYLENE and TOLUENE (found in: carpet & carpet pads, commercial cleaning supplies, vinyl floor tile). Symptoms include: fatigue, depression, poor memory, inability to concentrate, brain fog, headache, dizziness, flushing of face, burning of eyes & throat, chronic cough, asthma symptoms, heart palpitations. XYLENE and TOLUENE REMOVERS: The best are: Areca Palm, Dwarf Date Palm, Moth Orchid. Moderate: Dumb Cane (Camilla), Dragon Tree, Dendrobium Orchid, Dumb Cane (Exotica), King of Hearts, Kimberly Queen Fern, Warneckei, Lady Jane, Corn Plant, Weeping Fig, Peace Lily.

3. AMMONIA (found in: cleaning products, permanent press clothing, blueprint machines, electrophotographic printers) Causes irritation to the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs, and GI tract, causing nausea and abdominal pain.” Do not mix with chlorine bleach. AMMONIA removers: Excellent are: Lady Palm. Moderate: King of Hearts, Lily Turf, Lady Jane, Florist’s Mum, Peacock Plant, Dendrobium Orchid, Tulip. Fair: Parlor Palm, Arrowhead Vine, Weeping Fig, Peace Lily, Corn Plant, Azalea.

4. TRICHLOROETHYLENE (“TCE”) (found in: copy machines, solvents in machines & oils, correction fluid, dry cleaning, furniture glues, rug shampoos, floor polishes)

TCE symptoms include: confusion, poor attention, undue fatigue, poor reaction time, peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling), poor coordination, headache, dizziness, poor decision making, muscle cramps. TCE removers: Peace lilies, Golden Pothos, Gebera Daisy, and English Ivy.

5. BENZENE is found in glue, paint, and plastics. It is also found in the air from emissions from burning coal and oil, gasoline service stations, and motor vehicle exhaust. Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure of humans to benzene may cause drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, as well as eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation, and, at high levels, unconsciousness.  Chronic (long-term) inhalation exposure has caused various disorders in the blood, including reduced numbers of red blood cells and aplastic anemia, in occupational settings.  Reproductive effects have been reported for women exposed by inhalation to high levels, and adverse effects on the developing fetus have been observed in animal tests.  Increased incidence of leukemia (cancer of the tissues that form white blood cells) has been observed in humans occupationally exposed to benzene.  EPA has classified benzene as a Group A, human carcinogen. Plants that remove benzene include gerbera daisy, golden pothos, English Ivy, Peace Lily, Gerbera Daisy, Madagascar Dragon Tree.

The list below puts the top 17 plants you can put into your house and offices. Be sure, if you have small children and or animals, that you do not use plants that are poisonous if ingested by them, or at least place them where they cannot be reached. The plants will remove the chemicals from the air and help to avoid the build-up of chemicals that contribute to ‘sick building syndrome’. Use the following plants so you and yours can breath easier. Cut this section out and take it with you when you shop for your plants.

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Top 17 plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, and other toxins from the air are: (NOTE: the top ten are the best)

1. Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) - Semi-sun,

2. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) - Semi-sun,

3. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) - Semi-sun,

4. Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta) - Semi-sun to Semi-Shade

5. Madagascar Dragon Tree  (Dracaena deremensis aka Lisa Craig) Semi-shade

6. Philodendron (Philodendron sp.) - semi-shade

7. Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) - Semi-sun

8. Ficus Alii (Ficus macleilandii “Alii”) - Full Sun & semi-sun

9. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis) - Semi-sun

10. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum “Mauna Loa”) - semi-shade

11. Corn plant (Dracaena Massangeana)

12. English Ivy (Hedera helix)

13. Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii)

14. Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

15. Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

16. Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)

If you have a problem finding some of these plants, ask our local florist to help you to obtain

them.

17. ZZ plant aka golden tree - recommended for offices with little outside light.

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK

 

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