Posts Tagged ‘plants and health’

plants on windowsill

Some of you long time American Idol fans may remember seeing an older contestant in 2010 rapping to a song he wrote called “Pants on the Ground.” I’m going to take a little artistic license here and encourage you to get some “plants” on the ground. The reason for the push is because you need the health-promoting benefits of real plants in your home and office.

As our homes become more airtight, they conserve energy, but they also trap synthetic building materials that emit VOC’s (volatile organic chemicals). Those VOC’s can cause illness and breathing problems.  Products such as paint, carpeting, insulation and formaldehyde, and personal products such as deodorant, hair spray, tobacco smoke, and perfume all release VOC’s.

At work, it could be those products in addition to copy machines and printers; even your computer screen can emit harmful chemicals. The problem has become so severe that scientists have nick-named it “sick building syndrome.”

Dr. William Wolverton, a NASA employee, has been able to show through research that plants protect us from VOC’s by emitting oxygen, which in turn absorbs toxins and carbon dioxide. In addition, if you surround the base of your plants with activated charcoal, you can remove even higher concentrations of chemicals through the plant roots.

One house plant can clean approximately 100 square feet of floor space. All plants work, but there are a few that clean better than others.  Spider plants, ivy, bamboo, palms, dracaena, philodendrons, pothos, and spathphyllums (peace lilies) are considered to be top performers.

So what are you waiting for? Go to a home improvement, garden, or grocery store and get some plants for your home and office.  Or get a start from a friend.  I have a few spider plants at home, and they are loaded with “babies” that you can root in a glass of water.

If you decide you want a full-grown specimen, just make sure to coordinate your purchase with Mother Nature.  You don’t want to be hauling your palm tree out to the parking lot when it is 15 degrees outside. And while you’re making your purchase, you can hum my version of “Plants on the Ground” to yourself:


Plants on the ground,

Green all around,

Lookin pretty smart with your plants on the ground.

Stress goes down,

Sound goes down,

Rooms lookin’ lush with your plants on the ground.

Sick air gone,

Headaches gone,

Reduce your carbon footprint with plants on the ground.


Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu






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