Cabin fever isn't the only downside of more time inside every winter: Airborne toxin levels are higher indoors than out. (Breathe easier with our comprehensive Allergies & Asthma Guide.) Before you run out to buy an electric air purifier, consider houseplants for a natural fix. "Leaf surfaces and roots digest contaminants in the air," says Chris Raimondi, a horticulturist in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ. And they're effective: Studies show people who work near plants are less likely to suffer from fatigue, headaches, and sore throats.
Here are six hardworking plants to add to your home.
Bedroom: Gerbera Daisy Gerbera jamesonii
If you have ample light, place this colorful flowering plant in your bedroom, near where you air out freshly dry-cleaned clothes. It reduces levels of benzene, a chemical solvent used for dry cleaning that can compromise your immune system and has been linked to anemia.
Light needs: bright light
Temperature: 45 to 65 degrees F
Bathroom: "Janet Craig" Dracaena deremensis
This plant lowers levels of the toxin trichloroethylene, linked to kidney and liver cancers and lymphoma, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Often in paints, TCE can also be released into the air if you take a hot shower in TCE-contaminated water.
Light needs: medium
Temperature: 60 to 75 degrees F
Kitchen: English Ivy Hedera helix
This easy-to-grow ivy is particularly good at removing formaldehyde, a respiratory irritant, which can enter the air when you use some dishwashing liquids and disinfectants. Pressed-wood products such as cabinets and tables may also emit it.
Light needs: medium
Temperature: 50 to degrees F
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